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back to article Virgin Mobile to throttle 'unlimited' mobile broadband

Virgin Mobile's US division has decided its network can no longer support truly all-you-can-eat mobile broadband without slowing down uploads and downloads. VM's Broadband2Go package provides customers with unlimited data transfers for a $40-a-month fee. From 15 February, they will still have access to as much data as they like …

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"transferring too much data"

That is a perverse sentence. They are an ISP... they *sell* data. They should *want* to sell you as much as possible. The trouble their stupid pricing scheme. Only one scheme is fair on a shared resource: bill by usage. $0.10 / GB for as many GB as you like. No $50 for 5 GB then $0.20/GB after that. No throttling, no cut-off, no "Unlimited*"

* Unlimited plans have limits. Mileage may vary. Data may be subject to monitoring or modification.

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Boffin

Doesn't work out well in practice...

Here's the problem...

Phone and data pricing isn't a simple problem to solve.

First, you have to remember that the phone company is a *for* *profit* organization, so they want to make money.

Second, they are spending billions to upgrade their network to handle 3G+ traffic. All of this to get consumers to use their networks.

And consumers like having a set monthly price, even if it means that they may be paying more in the long run. (I know I have a cow when my phone bill doubled one month because my wife who never used to text started texting and well exceeded her plan's amount.)

So the phone company does some voodoo calculations and determines that $50.00 a month for an 'all you can eat' package is profitable because the majority of the users don't send that many texts or use internet features. At the same time, the networks can handle the traffic loads and still have room for xx% growth based on the estimated usage by their customers....

But these are only estimates... you set a price too high, and customers flock to your competitors. You set it too low, you go broke and you can only change your rates on new contracts so you're stuck.

Now add to this some hot new gadgets or apps where people are now downloading and using more data across the networks. Full HTML/Javascript/Flash capable browsers.... 2 way video chats... turn by turn navigation and GPS mapping... Think of all of the nifty new applications and the amount of data that you don't know about that is being sent.

Add to this... people who want to download and play movies on their phones. (Ebooks too but they're not as big.) All of this data usage by a larger segment of the population means that the initial estimates are way out of whack.

The simplest solution is to throttle. Many people won't notice being throttled. Those that do will change their usage habits. (Don't use 3G to download the movie, do it via wi-fi at home instead.)

Trying to do a 'base + ' package doesn't work well. How would you feel when you get your phone bill and its 3x your normal bill because little Billy was playing online games with his friends and also downloaded 4 full length cartoons a day?

I know throttling sucks, but its a no brainer for the telcos to implement.

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FAIL

that would be all well and good

then dont call it "unlimited." call it "Capped at 5G." See the difference there? One is a blantent lie, the other is the truth. Don't we have laws about blantently lieing in an advertisement?

My problems isn't capping, my problem is that they call something "unlimited" when it clearly is not. Frankly, I think they need to start fineing these lieing bastards per instance (an instance being each copy or performance of the advertisement).

I feel no pity for these twits, If they determand that most people do not use more then 5G, set the cap at 6G and point out that's more then you will use.

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JDX
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5GB

Throttling is one thing - I can understand they might have to to avoid worse issues - but 5Gb is REALLY low.

I hope they allow all subscribers to evade locked-in contracts and bail out.

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WTF?

@5GB Too Low !?!

"5Gb is REALLY low"

What the heck are you doing with your mobile phone for 5GB to be too low ?

If you were downloading ISOs, movies, etc. I could see your point. But are you really doing this on a mobile phone ?

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Anonymous Coward

It's not on a mobile phone

The Virgin Mobile broadband is not actually something on your phone, but rather a USB stick / wireless router for up to 5 clients using the cell phone network for the Internet connection. In so many words, it's a product competing with other broadband solutions providing Internet for your computers in the home and on the road.

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WTF?

Torrenting? On a mobile phone?

Seriously, people actually do that?

[inb4 "It's more likely than you think"!]

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Bah

Well, that sucks. I don't do any sharing/streaming, but last month I ran about 20GB through my (mobile) Virgin Mobile connection. I can't say I'm happy with this change.

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WTF?

Hmm

Problem: People downloading "too much" data on the "unlimited" contract we sold them.

Answer: Limit their speed after some random traffic limit while still selling the same "unlimited" contract.

Obviously the logical "stop selling an unlimited service we can't provide" is not even a consideration.

False advertising anyone?

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Anonymous Coward

I'm a Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go customer and...

...recently I switched to the 1GByte per month plan at $20 per month. This plan is only available when you buy the CDMA modem at Walmart. Which I did.

In other words, I had to buy another CDMA modem at Walmart, that's the downside, but I find that 1GByte per month is the sweet spot for me, and $20 for 1 GByte is a fair price.

In case I exhaust the 1GByte volume after, say, 20 days, the monthly cost basically goes up to $30. Something I can live with.

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FAIL

thats all fine then

Change the name of the package To "limited"

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Anonymous Coward

Nice timing

Though I would consider it actionable. If you sell "unlimited" data at a certain speed, you can't just say, "oh but when we said unlimited, we really ment $this_limit" or try the alternative "when we said $speed we really ment $much_lower_speed after $this_limit". If you can't deliver it, you can't sell it. No matter how reasonable your caps seem to you, or how necessary to proper functioning of the network you've built.

And yes, that means that if you want to cap anything at all you can't sell it as "unlimited data". Truth in advertising and all that.

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Boffin

But they are not capping your data...

They are capping your ability to download at max allowable bandwidth.

So they are still offering you 'unlimited' data, but they are slowing it down past 5GB.

I think its kind of a moot point. If they oversubscribe a region... for example... they have 100K customers in NY when their equipment can really handle 90K customers, everyone gets 'throttled because you can only force so much data through a finite pipe.

So how would you know you got throttled because of over subscription?

I think the issue isn't for new customer contracts because until you sign the contract and agree to the T's and C's, there's no problem. Its when they want to change the T's and C's mid contract. Of course they could write that in to the contract too.

(Telcos and Banks are evil that way... )

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Anonymous Coward

Confusing the issue

Yes, they might have done $stupid_thing, or they might do $other_stupid thing.

WHO CARES?

Not the customer. All the customer cares for is getting what he's paying for. If the telco cannot or will not deliver, then they are in breach of contract. The reasons why are not interesting except to determine gross negligence. Or perhaps if the reasons why include /force majeure/, which the contract ought to have a clause against.

You know, like how the levees broke due to natural disaster (and council cuts), and now the whole area is without 'leccy, nevermind 3G coverage. But then we're talking things that aren't something the average telco has much say in. But I digress.

IFF they're selling "unlimited data at $speed", then they cannot even throttle over a certain point, doesn't matter which point. If the contract then says "yes we can throttle, ha ha", it's time to look up the truth in advertising laws, because they're not selling what they're advertising. Again, the reasons why are not something I like to have sympathy for.

For important things I do read the Ts&Cs and that does influence where I get service or how much I'm willing to pay for it, yes, why do you ask? In fact, I usually prefer to get things cash or prepaid, in simple ownership and such, as it saves a lot of contractual hassle.

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Silver badge

Let me...

"This is an interesting approach to the problem of consumers who dare to think that subscribing to an unlimited package means they can send and receive lots and lots of data."

correct that;

"This is an interesting approach to the problem of consumers who dare to think that subscribing to an unlimited package means they have an unlimited package."

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Change the plan name..

If it was called "Un-metered" instead of "unlimited" there would be less of an issue.

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Paris Hilton

Surely this invalides the contract?

Even if they do feel able to change the T's & C's at whim?

(Paris because of "whim". Heh heh.)

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JDX
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T&C

It's probably in the T&C that they can change the T&C.

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