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Just ahead of the launch of Apple’s new handset, Virgin Mobile has launched a hard play for bring-your-own iPhone customers.

The carrier is offering a year of unlimited wireless service for $1 to customers who bring their own device and port their phone number on an “Inner Circle” plan. Virgin is also upping the ante for upgrades, offering an additional six months of service for $1 every time Inner Circle customers get a new iPhone. Regular customers can also purchase a new iPhone and receive the same 12 months for $1 offer.

Virgin Mobile indicated the Inner Circle will support the iPhone 5s and higher models.

“At Virgin Mobile, we don’t like playing by the rules, even our own,” Virgin Mobile USA CEO Dow Draper commented. “Consumers know that the Inner Circle is the real deal, but many love their current phones or don’t want to upgrade yet.”

After the $1 service term is up, Virgin indicated Inner Circle members will transition to its $50 per month unlimited plan. As with other “unlimited plans,” Virgin notes customers can experience slower speeds after 23 GB of usage in a given month. Video streams at 480p only, with music at up to 500 Kbps, and gaming at 2 Mbps. The plan includes unlimited talk and text, as well as 800 domestic roaming minutes and 100 MB of domestic data roaming.

The aggressive offer comes as Sprint tries to build momentum for the relaunched Virgin Mobile brand. Just as Sprint used a free year of unlimited to woo customers to its improved network, it appears to basically be doing the same to get people to try the new Virgin Mobile. While the offer seems drastic, Recon Analytics’ Roger Entner previously noted of Sprint’s free year promo that the deal would make a “big splash in a small pond.” That’s because of the short term of the offer (Virgin notes free SIM cards will be offered through Sept. 29) and because there are a finite number of iPhone switchers in the market.

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