February 12, 2013

Virgin Mobile USA will begin throttling the Beyond Talk plan customers

I signed up with Virgin Mobile long ago when they had a $25/mth month for 300 minutes of talk, unlimited text and data (their Beyond Talk plans). For the most part, I have few regrets about doing this. I live in a an urban center so connections were rarely a problem and I'm not a heavy phone talker so having access to my mail and web when I needed was usually more than enough.

There were some things I didn't like
  1. Virgin is a CDMA network not a GSM-- so no swapping out a SIM card when you travel
  2. My phone was woefully under-powered and to be honest, I found Virgin's network a tad slow
But for $25/mth, I wasn't going to complain that much! That said, I received this message from Virgin today that starting March 2013, they're going to begin throttling data usage...
Virgin Mobile USA: "Speed Reduction for Beyond Talk Monthly Plans
Once the system is updated, we will begin throughput speed reduction for the Beyond Talk Monthly plans on all devices. To ensure all customers have reliable access to data services, we will begin implementation of throughput speed reduction, once the established threshold is reached.
To help ensure you're aware of your throughput limiting status, we'll send you a message when 85% of the data threshold has been used, and again when you've reached 100% of your data threshold and speeds will be reduced."
This change may be enough for me to finally switch to a new and better phone (Nexus 4 - $349 for the 16GB or $299 for the 8GB) and new network that I prefer-- T-Mobile's GSM network.T-mobile has a Monthly 4G Prepaid plan for $30/mth (100 minutes of talk, unlimited text, unlimited Web (first 5GB at 4G speeds, then presumably throttled to 3G). At first glance, this may not seem that different from my current Virgin plan, but actually, there are some definite pluses to moving over to to T-mobile.
  1. Virgin begins throttling at 2.5GB of data vs Tmobile's 5GB.
  2. Moving to T-mobile also allows me to switch out my under-powered Samsung Intercept for an unlocked GSM phone of my choice (Nexus 4)
The main loss would be going from 300 minutes to 100 minutes, but since I really don't talk that much on my phone, maybe that's fine. Or you could also take advantage of services like Google Voice.

Finally, I should point out that even if you're not interested in getting the Nexus 4, you might still consider switching to a pre-paid plan because in the long run, you usually end up paying much less than the usual contract plans. For example, I just went through the steps as if I was going to order new service at one of the big wireless providers. The monthly cost for 200mins/mth (a "senior plan"), 3GB of data, and unlimited messaging worked out to be $79.99/mth. I imagine with taxes and fees, the cost becomes $85/mth. In a year's time, you'd spend $1,020.00.

By contrast, Virgin has the Samsung Galaxy SII for $279. And although Virgin no longer has the $25/mth plan, it has a $35/mth plan (those who had $25/mth plans were grandfathered in, but if they change phones, they would have to move to their $35/mth plan). So in a year's time, the cost of service would be $420.00. Add the initial cost of the phone and you've spent a paltry $699.00.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile has the Galaxy SII for $499.99 and has even even cheaper monthly plan-- $30/mth! The price difference between the two phones can be attributable to some significant differences in the makes/models:
  • the Virgin phone has a 1.2ghz dual core processor (Exynos) and is running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich); 
  • the T-Mobile phone has a 1.5ghz dual core processor and is oddly, running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). 
See here for more details. Again, a year's service at $30/mth = only $360.00!!! Add the cost of the phone and you've spent $859.00-- it's more than Virgin, but still much less than the standard monthly plan.

Data before throttling 
Monthly Cost; Yearly Cost 
$85/mth; $1020/yr 
$35/mth $420/yr 
$30/mth; $360/yr 
Galaxy SII phone
Yearly Cost + Galaxy phone
16GB Nexus 4
Yearly Cost + 16gb Nexus 4 

BTW, since I would really rather have the Nexus 4, this info on the Samsung phones doesn't weigh that heavily on my decision. And as you can see in the table, the final year's cost for the 16GB Nexus 4 would be $769 on VirginMobile and only $709 on T-Mobile! Finally, note that if you keep the phone for a second year, the cost
  • on T-Mobile would only be $710 (1st year with new phone cost) + $360 (2nd year monthly service cost) = $970
  • whereas, a two year contract with a standard carrier would end up costing you much more; $1069 (first year with new phone) + $1,020 (2nd year monthly service) = $2,081
Adds up quick, doesn't it?!

1 comment:

  1. Bonjour,
    Je pense que l'auteur de ce post devrait s'acheter le Nexus 4, ou un autre telephone de nouvelle generation. C'est amplement merite!