It ain't over until it's over, but we just got word that Helio store managers received notification this week that the axe is finally falling: (at least some of) the nationwide chain of retail stores will be shuttered during Virgin's takeover of Helio. As we've heard, "there is no 'merge' in this merger," so it sounds like after this year's big executive reshuffle, SK Telecom is bailing on their half-billion dollar enterprise a big way. No word if the fabled Ocean 2 will make it -- or if Virgin will even let Helio customers keep their phones.

Alongside Helio -- more or less the last man standing -- the great MVNO goldrush also dies. Unfortunate that besides Virgin and a few local and M2M providers (like Amazon's Whispernet), pretty much no one was able to make it work. Then again, no one ever never said making cellphones and running any kind of carrier was easy.

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Helio's flame going out: stores to shutter, customers heading to Virgin?