If you are a data-heavy user who signed up for Virgin Mobile’s Beyond Talk with unlimited data, web and e-mail in the hopes of paying $25 (or $35, depending on when you joined) and never having anything to worry about, your dreams are about to be shattered – in some ways.
March 23rd, 2012 is going to be your equivalent to the Mayan’s December 21st, 2012 as that is the day Virgin Mobile plans to end unlimited data at their “normal” speeds and start capping users’ monthly 3G allowance at 2.5GB. If you’re bad at math, that comes out to about 88.33MB per day over the course of a month.
But have no fear. Virgin Mobile is going to be so kind as to send you a text message once you have met your 2.5GB of data. Not before you reach the limit, but when you reach it. How thoughtful of them. You can then choose to restart your month and resume at normal speeds but if you don’t, the remainder of your current month will see your data speeds reduced to 256Kbps or less.
Here’s the official word from Virgin Mobile:
To make sure we can keep offering our Beyond Talk Plans at such great prices, we’re putting a data speed reduction in place for anyone who uses over 2.5GB of data in a month.
Will it affect me?
Based on your activity for your last plan month ending in December, you could be affected by this change.
If you continue to use the same amount of data as you did in your last plan month, you may see your data speeds reduced during a plan month when the data speed reduction is implemented on March 23, 2012. You can still use your phone to do everything you currently do, but you may experience slower page loads and file downloads and lags in streaming media.
This will not affect your ability to text or make calls with your phone.
How will it work?
Starting March 23, 2012, if you use over 2.5GB of data in a month on your Beyond Talk Plan:
• Data speeds may be reduced to 256Kbps or below for the rest of your month.
• If data speeds are reduced, they will return to normal as soon as your next plan month starts.
• If you’d rather not wait for your new month to start, you can restart your plan immediately through My Account.
How will I know if my data speeds have been reduced?
If you reach 2.5GB of data in a month, you will receive a text message letting you know your data speeds will be reduced for the rest of your plan month.
By putting this data speed reduction in place, we’re making sure we can deliver the same quality service you’ve come to expect from Virgin Mobile. We hope you understand.
*Data usage per activity is based on an average. Bandwidth varies by website, video, email and other Internet application
So there you have it. I guess we couldn’t have possibly expected our great deal to last, right? But don’t think that your ol’ buddy Dave is going to leave you in the dark on this one. I’ve already come up with some suggestions that will help you save data and keep track of how much data you are burning through.
Use WiFi: This the most obvious solution if you have a wireless connection at home or wherever you have access to WiFi. You won’t have to worry about using up any data.
Juice Defender app: Juice Defender continues to be one of my most used apps as it gives me the ability to turn off my phone’s data connection. Just place the widget on your Home page and whenever you want to go online, send an MMS, or do anything that requires sending or receiving data, turn on the data connection. When finished, turn it off. Pretty simple.
Onavo app: I’ve only begun to test data usage apps and one of the first ones I came across was Onavo. I picked it based on the customer ratings which all seemed pretty favorable. From what I’ve seen so far, it works great but does drain your battery faster than normal since it constantly monitors data and the apps that are data-heavy. You can also set it to give you alerts when you are approaching your monthly allowance. This is a real user-friendly app that does a great job keeping track of when your data will be throttled. Best of all, it’s free. Check it out.
So exactly how much is 2.5GB? Let this give you an idea.
After I installed the Onavo app I kept an eye on my data usage. Throughout the course of my shift at work and using Juice Defender to turn my data on and off, my total data usage came to a little under 30MB. (The rest of my data was sent and received at home via WiFi.) The 30MB included apps that use data, some Web browsing, no sent MMS messages and downloading one MMS that was sent to me. While the cap might hurt some, it may not have much of an affect on my personal usage except for when I want to use the phone’s GPS or fitness apps that require GPS tracking for my run, ride, etc. And since I’m usually home on weekends, I’m on WiFi most of the time.
A little note on Onavo. You can only set data caps in round numbers and not decimals. In Virgin Mobile’s case, you want to set your cap to 2560MB which is equal to 2.5GB.
Look, we knew this day was coming. You’d better go and enjoy your unlimited data for the next few months before Virgin Mobile pops throttle cap in your…behind.