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Virgin Mobile To Throttle Top 5% of Data Users More Severely

Virgin Mobile users received a text from the company this week advising them of changes to network management beginning June 1. The text reads;

"Beginning 6/1/14, to provide more customers with a high quality data experience during heavy usage times, Virgin Mobile USA may manage prioritization of access to network resources in congested areas for customers within the top 5% of data users. For more info visit virginmobileusa.com/networkmanagement."

The linked page has lots of verbiage about all the different types on network management that Sprint does. Some of it is new but much of it isn't. When I compared the current copy of the page with one retrieved a month ago by archive.org I found a couple of significant differences:

Users whose previous month's usage puts them in the top 5% of data users will be assigned a lower priority than other users for the current month. When the network is congested these lower priority users will experience slower data speeds than other users. According to Virgin, the amount of usage needed to get oneself put in the low-priority penalty box varies but that anyone using more than 5GB in a month is likely to fall into the top 5%.

In other words, if you use a lot of data in June then in July you will be subject to throttling right from the beginning of the month even before you have had the chance to use much data. The top 5% will be recalculated each month giving penalized users the opportunity redeem themselves by using less data.

Also new is this statement, "Sprint also reserves the right to alter the priority of other customers on specific devices or plans on the Sprint network.". To me that means users on lower priced plans, including prepaid can be assigned a lower priority.

It's hard to say how much impact these changes will actually have on Virgin Mobile users. All current Virgin plans have a 2.5GB soft cap with speeds throttled to 128Kbps or less after 2.5GB. It's hard to imagine that many users will be able to use enough throttled data to get anywhere near 5GB. But what if the threshold for lower priority is the top 5% of all Virgin Mobile users rather than all Sprint network users? I bet that 95% of Virgin Mobile users don't use much more than 2.5GB for the simple reason that video streaming, which accounts for the majority of mobile data use, is nearly impossible at 128kbps.

On the other hand these changes give customer service reps a new excuse to dismiss users reports of poor network performance. They can now tell your that your data is slow because you are in the top 5% or because you are on prepaid.

Sources: HowardForums, Virgin Mobile. Image: Twitter

8 comments:

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  1. From my experience with Virgin and Boost throttling to 128 Kbs would actually be a speed increase. With such slow data, horrible customer service, high prices, poor coverage and no BYOP, I don't know how Virgin keeps any customers.

    Sprint's Japanese owner won't sit by forever as Sprint continues to hemorrage customers

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  2. First they make unlimited 2.5 gb with a 256k throttle.
    Then they cut that to a 128k throttle. And now this /Better to get a mvno already.

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  3. And Sprint want's to buy T-Mobile what for
    So they can have even more customers to treat like they don't have the right to use the service that they paid for
    If Sprint buys T-Mobile the US will only have two good choices in wireless and nether is Sprint
    Sprint is the one who should be sold instead of buying any other carrier

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  4. This is god awful. Who in their right mind, will go or stay at Virgin Mobile? I wonder if Boost will get the same treatment. Thank god that I'm no longer a Virgin Mobile customer.

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    1. Sadly my parents because they hate switching carriers period. It took almost a whole year to leave at&t for virgin mobile because she loved the iPhone but not the price. She was paying unlimited talk text and data for $130 now pays $52 a month for unlimited talk text and data* up to 2.5gb of data before slow down.

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  5. complain all you want. I still can't think of any carrier who offers cheaper service than virgin mobile. where else can you get unlimited, albeit throttled data, 300 minutes and unlimited texting for $35 dollar a month.

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  6. Anon, you are right. But still, with Virgin making serious service degradations (instead of improvements), it has me looking hard for alternatives. If any ever appear (i.e. T-Mobile turning into a serious national carrier)... and they haven''t yet, I will want to jump ship.

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  7. Well I'm probably going back to a land line because I'm not going to pay for data usage and then get punished for using it.

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