Maximum PC reports that Virgin Mobile secretly caps "unlimited" data plans:
Subscribers to the $40 per month Unlimited Broadband2Go plan who exceed the industry standard 5GB cap will receive notice that their bandwidth will be significantly diminished for the remainder of the billing period.
Long-time readers of this blog will recall that I obtained just such a device, but returned it due to a lack of coverage at my house. Since the whole point of the purchase was to have unlimited broadband, instead of my paltry 7.5 GB/month WildBlue satellite Internet plan, I'm glad that it didn't work out.
Virgin got some great press from David Pogue based entirely on the "unlimited" aspect of the plan. He's remarked upon the backpedaling, but I'm sure Virgin has still seen a huge net benefit from the coverage.
Most galling is this statement in Virgin's press release:
Keep in mind, 5GB is A LOT of data. To give you an idea, it’s about 250 hours of web browsing or over 500,000(!) emails*. So this change shouldn’t affect you unless you’re a heavy downloader/streamer/etc.
Yes, it's "A LOT" of data if this is 1998, and we do 1998 things with our Internet, like read email(!) and surf(!) the web(!). But what if we want to do 2011 things? Well, 5 GB/month will get you less than two Netflix movies at highest quality, or about half of a major-release game download from Steam. An operating system update for your iThing will eat through half a week's worth of your allowance. Windows 7 installation media from TechNet? Two weeks' worth, sir. Grateful Dead shows? You could get one a week, if you don't want to use your connection for anything else.
It's 2011. Digital delivery of software and HD video is here now. Stop quoting bandwidth in "emails", "web pages", and "screen-resolution photos", and recognize it.