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06 March 201320 Comments by Jon M

Virgin Mobile admits to throttling

virgin throttling

Virtual network Virgin Mobile has come clean about its slow mobile internet speeds. A Virgin staff member called “Krystal_E” has posted an an official statement on the community forums confirming that they are heavily throttling the mobile data connection.

It is claimed that the speed cap is just a “trial” but it affects all customers whether they are on contract plans or PAYG and there is no ending date. Despite numerous denials about deliberately slowing down internet speeds, the throttling has and has been in place since February.

Virgin are arguing that they are throttling internet access to ensure they can “offer a good level of service to all customers”. But in their admission, they revealed that the current cap is set at 2 Mb/second down and just 0.5 Mb/second up. Now many users are complaining they can’t stream videos without constant buffering.

There is some argument for putting a speed cap on mobile data in order to guarantee service for all customers and prevent a small minority from hogging all the bandwidth. However, 2 Mb/second is far too slow and severely limits what you can do with your mobile.

And in any case, to play devil’s advocate, surely it’s the mobile company’s responsibility to ensure they have adequate infrastructure available to meet people’s needs? Why sell so many SIM cards if you can’t provide a decent service for all your customers? This is especially true for Virgin Mobile as they run on EE’s network and they should have plenty of spare 3G capacity.

Virgin Mobile is also being somewhat dishonest as they recently introduced “unlimited” data plans. However, by putting in a speed cap, they are necessarily introducing an artificial hard limit to the amount of data you can download. You wouldn’t have to be a massive cynic to think that maybe they underestimated how much people would take advantage of the unlimited tariffs and are introducing this change to try and limit people after all.

Virgin Mobile users are doubly annoyed as there have already been many changes this year making the mobile data provision worse. There were changes to the fair usage policy limiting monthly usage as well as a ban on tethering back in January. The latest news that they are throttling users’ data access to such a low limit is sure to annoy people.

Indeed, the Virgin Mobile community forums are now replete with outraged customers threatening to move to other networks that don’t cap their mobile data. Questions also have to be asked why it took so long for Virgin to own up to this change? Are they not in the habit of being transparent with their customers?

Some of the furious quotations from customers include “they deserve to be taken to the cleaners on this one”, “I’d personally report Virgin to the ASA” and “I signed up here specifically to state that I’ll be requesting my PAC at the end of this month”. Probably our absolute favourite is as follows:

Joined Virgin on 1GB package on the 16th Feb and left today for Tesco because of all this nonsense … Bye bye Virgin. It’s been a short and messy three weeks. Like a holiday romance with a pretty girl that turned out to be bipolar.

In response, Virgin has claimed that they will never reduce the cap any further. But that’s unlikely to placate their customers most of whom realise that Virgin Mobile hardly make any money on data as opposed to voice calls and suspect that the network is merely trying to reduce its outgoings at their expense.

And the problems don’t stop there. Virgin’s customers are also reporting that the cap is implemented poorly so you get sudden bursts of data followed by almost nothing. While it averages out to about 2 Mbit/s overall, it doesn’t make for useful internet access. We’ll be monitoring the situation closely to see if anything changes. In the meantime, you might want to think about changing to another network that offers a better unlimited data service.

Are you on Virgin Mobile? Did you notice the cap already? What do you think about this decision? And will you be staying with them or jumping ship?

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20 Responses to “Virgin Mobile admits to throttling”

  1. Mostyn Duval 29 May 2016 at 10:40 Permalink

    Yep…. being throttled back by VM to 0.39. I am on the unlimited backage (£10 per month.) Spoke to VM today (again) and the rep’ tells me it’s an OFCOM requirement to implement a “fair data usage” plan; and after 3.5GB of data being downloaded, from the start of the plan day of the month, throttling takes place…. unbelievable!!!

  2. Michael 6 August 2013 at 16:37 Permalink

    Had a Premier all-unlimited Pay Monthly sim for 3 days now. First day I’m watching videos, downloading loads of apps etc with DL speeds of 5-6mb. Now I do a speed test and it bursts up to 1-2 mb and drops back to 3-400k no higher. I spoke to a really rude member of T.S. and she said nothing about me downloading too much or a 1Gb fair usage policy, she told me it was congestion! Yeah ok. Will be cancelling asap and going back to 3.

  3. Levs 5 July 2013 at 23:05 Permalink

    LI’ve been a 3 customer for over 3 years now but I thought I’d try out Virgin as I seen behind the shop till that they are offering unlimited data for £10 so I thought this would be more reasonable than 3 as you need to top up £15 for the ‘All you can eat’ add on.

    I am using my Xperia U as a WiFi hotspot using Virgin unlimited internet and connecting to my smartphone via Xbox Live, at first? Speeds were perfectly fine SpeedTest was saying 1.5mb dl and 1.2mb upload, The Orange Box was on offer so I downloaded it (3.9Gb, not knowing i’d get throttled/capped) now today I have found out they have a fair usage policy or whatever, I have run a LOT of speedtests today and not a joke here honestly, 40kb DL 120kb UL, I’m getting booted off XBL and majority of online games, with the 3 network on PAYG? Not a problem, never a problem but annoyed with time consuming speeds, do I really want to spend my life waiting at least 10 minutes for a page to load? Figure that one out for yourself ;(

    • Mobile Network Comparison 8 July 2013 at 12:04 Permalink

      Three have always been the best option for unlimited data if you need tethering…

      • Levs 27 August 2013 at 17:07 Permalink

        Yes I agree 3 are the best network, also in my area 3 has the best coverage accordibg to OpenSignal. I left Virgin since they throttled me, no problems at all with 3 and hopefully it shall stay that way!

  4. Emily 29 June 2013 at 05:28 Permalink

    Using a Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go Hotspot on an ‘unlimited’ plan.
    I can attest to the ‘sudden bursts of data followed by almost nothing’. I constantly have to reload pages with videos because they only load a few minutes in, if at all.
    Not to mention the fact that the times of ‘almost nothing’ occur for longer than the bursts, making it so that I can only Google Search things with confidence that the internet won’t fail.

    • Mobile Network Comparison 2 July 2013 at 12:13 Permalink

      Have you had any official response about this? Are they still admitting to throttling? And have you made a complaint about the service you’re paying for being unusuable?

  5. Matt_music 26 June 2013 at 19:35 Permalink

    Have had virgin mobile since October. AFter the 1st month I was being charged for every use because of some “Tariff Error”. Tariff details eventually went back to normal. 1 month later. Nothing but problems with tethering, youtube & hotmail. called 3 times (once every 2 months or so), no decent explanation. 4th time I call I get told tethering is banned and my account has been capped all because of fair usage policy. And it’s been like that for 5 months with not even a letter to explain this. When I questioned this, the answer was that I should’ve received a letter and they apologise.

    • Mobile Network Comparison 2 July 2013 at 12:16 Permalink

      Try being more firm on the phone and insisting that you speak to someone higher up. Good tips are to use words like “Ofcom” and “unacceptable”. Please let us know how you get on or make your feelings clearest by voting with your wallet…

  6. deadsilence 28 May 2013 at 14:06 Permalink

    im on virgin, contract have been for about two years, havent noticed anything unusual, although my blackberry has been slow to start with…

    althought the last few days ive noticed im not running on gprs any more and its suddenly changed to EDGE… which is faster and ive definetly noticed that…

    so i dont know whats going on at virgin

    • Mobile Network Comparison 28 May 2013 at 15:42 Permalink

      Does your BlackBerry support 3G?

      • deadsilence 3 July 2013 at 14:53 Permalink

        i cant say it does support 3g? I dont think it does but i dont pay for 3G

        • Mobile Network Comparison 3 July 2013 at 17:32 Permalink

          We guess it must do. You don’t have to pay anything extra for 3G. Which model is it?

          • deadsilence 3 July 2013 at 17:46 Permalink

            its the 8520, old one lol

            • Mobile Network Comparison 3 July 2013 at 17:53 Permalink

              That’s the reason then. The BlackBerry Curve 8520 is 2G (GPRS/EDGE) only – you need a 9000 series to get 3G 🙂

              • deadsilence 8 July 2013 at 21:51 Permalink

                yes, but my point is, edge runs at practically 3G levels, while GPRS is like not as good, but my phone keeps switching between EDGE and GPRS as of late

  7. Darren Sheppard 21 May 2013 at 21:28 Permalink

    I have had the PAYG unlimited MB bundle for 2 months on my mobile… 2 months where I have been using every other available source of internet possible! including friends Wifi! This is not good enough, I am just lucky my sim is PAYG not contract, so I can bin it 🙂

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