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Slower Throttled Data on Boost and Virgin Mobile Starting May 6

Users of Sprint's Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile prepaid services are reporting getting text messages saying that effective May 6, 2014, customers who use more than 2.5 GB of data in a month will be throttled to 2G speeds. The texts contain a link to a mobile web page (Boost version, Virgin Mobile version) that reads:

Effective 5/6/14, if you reach 2.5GB of combined 3G/4G data during your monthly plan cycle, your data speeds will be reduced to 2G speeds for the rest of that monthly plan. During this time, you may experience slower page loads and file downloads, and lags in streaming media. Data speeds will return to normal as soon as your next monthly plan starts. If you'd rather not wait for your new month to start, you can restart your plan immediately through My Account.

How will I know if my data speeds have been reduced?
If you are close to reaching 2.5GB of data in a month, you will receive a text message alerting you. Once you reach the 2.5GB limit, you will receive a text message letting you know your data speeds will be reduced for the rest of your plan month. You can check how much data you've used at any time during the month by logging into My Account and checking Data & Web history.

By putting this data speed reduction in place, we're making sure we can deliver the same quality of service to all of our nationwide customers – we appreciate your understanding at this time

The Virgin Mobile site's Frequently Asked Questions section also has pages showing the new and old throttling polices.

Throttling itself isn't new on Boost and Virgin. Since 3/23/2012 on Virgin and 1/20/2013 on Boost, speeds have been throttled after 2.5 GB in a month. What's different is that current policy sets the capped speed at 256 Kbps or less.  What's changing May 6 is that the throttled speed is described as "2G" rather than 256 Kbps. On CDMA networks like Sprint's,  2G means 1xRTT which has a theoretical maximum speed of 144 Kbps and typical real-world speeds of 60-80 Kbps. I'm sure Sprint won't actually switch you to 1xRTT, which uses spectrum less efficiently than 3G EVDO or 4G LTE, they will just slow the data down at the network level.

We probably won't know what the actual throttle speed is until the new policy goes into effect, but I suspect it will be either 128 Kbps or 64 Kbps.  Boost and Virgin's 256 Kbps throttle was actually fairly generous, most other operators and MVNOs that throttle already do it to 128 Kbps or less. 256 Kbps wasn't much slower than typical Sprint 3G and was fast enough that web browsing was doable and streaming music services like Pandora still worked reasonably well. 128 Kbps or 64 Kbps will make browsing very slooow and music buffer badly.

The Virgin Mobile FAQ page also indicates that customers who have the extra-cost tethering add-on that was available for a few discontinued WiMAX phones will continue to receive 3.5 GB of data instead of 2.5 GB before throttling to 2G speeds kicks in.

13 comments:

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  1. Time to switch carrier's

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    1. Good luck with that, straight talk has been throttling me after apx 500mb. calling them/facebook CS no help.

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    2. Where else can you get 2.5 gibi / month for $35? I'm seeing ~ 2.75 Mbps with 115 msec latency (aggregated by FCC app). That's pretty spiffy.

      In reality, what "2G" speeds probably means is your latency goes up to 400 msec, which makes it unusable for interactive purposes. 100 kbps may not be broadband, but it's luxury compared to 28.8k dialup days, and would be excellent with 20-50 msec latency.

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    3. I'm on the $10 pay as you go plan every 90 day Boost plan it's just my extra line not my main. But, Boost pissed me off because since Feb. is a shorter month they moved up my billing date and since I paid late by 2 days they took $13.80 off my account credit I billed up. I tried to explain to them and they ain't wanna credit it back so after arguing with a few reps a few days the best I could get was $2 back. That was last straw for me I'm switching to H20.

      I had Sprint postpaid 4 years ago great customer service. Then I switched that line to Boost good customer service then also. Now both have gone downhill. I'm happy with T-mobile no contract as my main and H20 to replace my Boost pay as you go. With this announcement for Boost and Virgin and the Sprint Prepaid announcement getting worst also and the way they forced Boost iden customers to pricier plans when Sprint shutdown Nextel network it's no wonder Sprint is going downhill and T-mobile is about to grab that number 3 spot.

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  2. Deliver the same quality to all our user BS, but if you start your plan over and pay us you can have faster data again. It's a money grab!!!

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  3. If this is the case, then I need to shop for a non-Sprint prepaid carrier. My data has been s**t since I got notice eight months ago that towers being upgraded.

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  4. Two observations:

    1) Sprint is so slow how does anyone exceed 2.5 GB?

    2) If you could exceed 2.5 GB, Sprint will reward you by increasing your speed to 2g???

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  5. Time to find a Framily plan with 6 members and sign up. $35 plus tax for 3gb, roaming and network priority over Virgin, Boost, Sprint Prepaid...

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  6. I left Boost a few years ago, then Virgin last year.
    They know how to lose longtime customers.

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  7. Are they tempting fate here? How many people are going to leave both companies because of this? Does Sprint Prepaid behind this?

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  8. They are going against the flow by reducing service. Other companies are increasing service.

    Why? Often this is a sign a company is going out of business.....

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  9. After eight years of Virgin/Boost I'm switching over to Verizon. Enough is enough. Getting HTC One (M8). Better customer service and better coverage.

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