Virgin Mobile is the latest carrier to cancel its unlimited wireless data plan.
The carrier will stop offering its $40 all-you-can-eat 3G Broadband2Go data plan after Feb. 15, PC World has reported, writing that Virgin said it needs "to implement network controls to ensure optimal experience."
According to PC World, Virgin plans to go the route of T-Mobile and Cricket, offering "unlimited" data, though after using 5GB a month users can expect to see their cruising speeds slow down considerably."Customers who use BB2Go for typical e-mail, Internet surfing and reasonable downloading will likely not be impacted/notice any difference," Virgin Mobile's Corinne Nosal said in an e-mail to PC World's Sascha Seegan-who disagreed, pointing out that "the problem comes if you like video or downloads."AT&T-buckling under the weight of its data-devouring iPhone customers-was the first to step away from the buffet. In June 2010, it announced that instead of $30 a month for unlimited data, it would offer 200MB a month for $15 or 2GB a month for $25. In a statement at the time, it added that 98 percent of AT&T customers used less than 2GB of data per month. (The implication being: We're helping you save money! If you want to spend more, that's your decision!)While Verizon introduced an iPhone of its own Jan. 11-and turned on its LTE 4G network Dec. 5-it has yet to offer details on data plans for the Apple smartphone, prompting speculation that an unlimited plan, if offered, could reach $120 a month.On Oct. 22, during Verizon's third quarter earnings call, Verizon CFO John Killian announced that the carrier, "as a holiday promotion," would offer tiered data pricing, suggesting that the right tack was still being worked out."We like the concept of tiered pricing," Killian explained during the call, "but we will continue to look at this. We will probably have some pricing changes when we roll out 4G and 4G pricing, so there will be more to come then."The Virgin Mobile decision leaves Sprint alone in offering unlimited data-its Simply Everything plan includes unlimited data, talking, messaging and Direct Connect for $70."Our ability to offer unlimited 4G we think is the best way to get people to use it," said a Sprint spokesperson, according to Jan. 10 report from Mobiledia. Despite having a major lead in the 4G race, it took a bit of time for Sprint to gain momentum-and to start gaining more customers each month than it lost. Its Samsung Epic 4G and HTC Evo 4G smartphones, however, have been a big help, and at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, it introduced two new 4G-enabled products (including an updated Evo), bringing its tally to 17 devices.The Sprint spokesperson added, "We want to get people in that mode of experiencing the Internet like they would at home or at the office."