Virgin Mobile launches 'unlimited' data plan (with some limits?)
Internet users hoping to use mobile-broadband access instead of a wired broadband connection now have two choices beyond the $60-a-month, bandwidth-capped offerings of such wireless carriers as AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
The press release on the Sprint subsidiary's site covers almost all the important details of the $40 plan and a second, $10 option that includes 100 MB of use (which could suffice for backup access during a few days out of town).
It does, however, leave out one sentence in the version e-mailed to me: a footnote clarifying that "Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go service is subject to terms of service found at virginmobileusa.com. Prohibited data and network uses apply."
What might those prohibitions cover? The second of the two terms-of-service documents on Virgin's site says nothing about them, but the first has a long section covering "Specific Terms and Restrictions regarding Data Services." It leads off with this paragraph:
If your plan includes data services, such services are provided solely for purposes of web browsing, messaging, and similar activities. [....] You may not use the data service: (1) with server devices or host computer applications, including, but not limited to, Web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, automated machine-to-machine connections or peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing or other systems that drive continuous heavy traffic or data sessions; (2) as a substitute or backup for private lines or frame relay connections; (3) with "auto-responders", "cancel-bots", or similar automated or manual routines which generate excessive amounts of traffic, or which disrupt user groups or email use by others; (4) for tethering your device to a personal computer or other hardware; (5) to send "spam" or unsolicited commercial or bulk email (or activities that have the effect of facilitating unsolicited commercial email or unsolicited bulk email); or (6) for any activity that adversely affects the ability of other people or systems to use either our wireless services or other parties' Internet-based resources.
The weird thing is, one of the two devices Virgin sells for use with Broadband2G0 -- the $149.99 MiFi 2200 mobile hotspot -- doesn't do anything but provide tethered access to personal computers. Should we then read that clause and such additional restrictions as a prohibition on "any commercial activities" online as only covering the data components of its phone plans?
It's hard to tell, since Virgin Mobile's publicist did not answer two e-mails looking for clarification. How do you interpret this?
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