If you are with Virgin Mobile you may have noticed that download speeds during the last few weeks haven’t been quite as good as they used to be, even when you have a good signal. The reason for this is that Virgin is trialling a download speed restriction of 2Mbps for customers on both PAYG and contract mobile phone plans.
Last night following 16 pages full of speed related complaints and discussion of such issues upon the Virgin Media Help & Support Forum Krystal_E, from the Virgin Media Forum Team, confirmed that the company was throttling downloads:
I've received confirmation that we're trialing a speed cap which has been in place since mid-Feb and is applicable to Contract and PAYG customers, but excludes Mobile Broadband.
The current cap is 2Mb/s download, 0.5Mb/s upload. We are doing this to ensure we can offer a good level of service to all customers.
As this is still in trial we are actively monitoring customer feedback to determine its success as we believe this is vital in ensuring we're delivering the best experience for our customers.
Many thanks, Krystal Evans"
Here’s a link to the page with Krystal’s post. For her informative post Krystal earned one Virgin Kudos point... Almost immediately the news received an acidic response from a customer declaring the new speed trial to be “beyond belief” and as a result that particular irate user said “I’m now trialling Vodafone. There's my feedback.” It seems like this is just further whittling down of the quality of Virgin’s mobile service as tethering has been disabled and the FUP changed only a few weeks ago.
The Register adds some further explanation to the cap quoting Virgin “We are currently trialling measures to help manage data across the mobile network to ensure all our customers can continue to enjoy the benefits of mobile data on the move.” Perhaps even worse than the speed issues, there are reports in the Register’s forums that the throttle in place is also causing intermittent connectivity.
It may be understandable that mobile companies throttle data to some degree to provide a more balanced service to more users, if the networks are under strain. However Virgin Mobile seems to have cut quite a lot of benefits from its mobile data recently with the FUP and tethering cuts in January. ISP Review thinks that the introduction of unlimited tariffs last year has probably brought about the changes. (I think this has happened with Three too, I used to tether my 500mb data allowance when I really needed to last year but now I get kicked off the network. I don’t know why, it’s just a small 500mb allowance, I’m not going to go wild.)
Let’s all wish for a quick onset of 4G competition and its widespread availability alongside many more free Wi-Fi and even white space networks covering the UK.
Virgin Mobile is a MVNO using T-Mobile’s network.