*Sprint Nextel Corp. is revamping Virgin Mobile, the prepaid wireless service it bought last year, and making it focus on inexpensive plans for young people who would rather text or send Facebook messages than talk.

The announcement, set for Thursday, clarifies Sprint’s strategy in the increasingly important prepaid market. With cheaper prices and increasing choices of phones and services, prepaid plans have lured more consumers in the last year. In the first three months of this year, new prepaid subscribers outnumbered those who signed traditional two-year contracts in the industry as a whole.

For Sprint, prepaid is especially important, because that segment represents all of the company’s growth. It’s losing contract-signing customers to AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless.

This week, Virgin Mobile will introduce three new plans that include unlimited text messaging, e-mail, and Web access. The prices start at $25 per month for 300 minutes of calling.

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