Virgin Mobile will begin to reduce the mobile broadband speeds of smartphone users on March 23, following a similar path as T-Mobile, AT&T(s t) and others who have offered unlimited plans. Fierce Wireless notes Virgin’s BeyondTalk subscribers using 2.5 GB of data in a given month will see 3G speeds reduced to 256 kbps for the remainder of that month’s billing cycle.
The operator, which is an MVNO that resells Sprint’s(s s) CDMA and EVDO services, has details on a webpage here. Smartphone owners who hit the 2.5 GB mark will first receive a text message to indicate their broadband speeds will be slowed. It’s almost ironic that Sprint itself still touts truly unlimited plans to differentiate itself from the other main carriers; not even a reseller of its own services can compete with that.
This initiative isn’t the first time Virgin Mobile migrated from an unlimited data plan. A year ago, the company changed the unlimited plans for its MiFi mobile hotspots to a 5 GB soft cap. With wireless spectrum a fixed commodity that’s expensive to deploy, combined with the fast growing demand of mobile data, Virgin Mobile’s move isn’t surprising. Here in the U.S., it’s now a question of how long Sprint will continue to offer unlimited data for its smartphones.