Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/03/05/virgin_choking/

Virgin Mobile coughs to choking its customers

2Mb/sec ought to be enough for anyone

By Bill Ray

Posted in Mobile, 5th March 2013 10:28 GMT

Virgin Mobile UK has admitted it is capping mobile data at 2Mb/sec - claiming it is for the benefit of customers - as it tries to keep everyone connected.

Customers started noticing the speed cap in the last few days, but as it's being applied piecemeal it has been hard to pin down. That is, until the company last night admitted to capping both contract and pre-paid customers in a statement which claimed that capping speed at 2Mb/sec was a good thing.

"We are currently trialling measures to help manage data across the mobile network," said the telco, justifying the cap as a measure "to ensure all our customers can continue to enjoy the benefits of mobile data on the move".

Punters who'd previously enjoyed speeds of several times that are understandably upset, and unlikely to be reassured by the company's assurance that it is "confident we'll only ever increase the maximum speeds available to our customers in the future".

Reg readers using the service claim they're suffering from intermittent connectivity as a result of the cap, too.

Data is a drain on mobile operators, who still make the vast majority of their revenue from voice calls. Internet data coming from other networks requires payment by-the-byte in peering charges and as each cell site can only handle a limited amount of data, offering faster connections means increasing cell density - which means added costs for the operators.

2Mb/sec should be enough for a video stream, and one might imagine customers would be happier with a reliable 2Mb/sec than an overloaded and patchy 8Mb/sec, but that would assume customers making balanced value judgments rather than comparing speedtest.net with their mates in the pub. Sadly, this is a comparison which Virgin's new policy will ensure it loses. ®