Monday, November 7, 2016

Virgin becomes last major UK 4G network

Virgin Media has launched its first 4G tariffs, the last major UK network to offer high-speed mobile internet plans.
The network said it would "zero-rate" both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, so using the apps would not count towards customers' data usage.
However, the apps will stop working if customers use up their data allowance by other means, to stay within EU net neutrality rules.
Price comparison site Uswitch said 4G alone would no longer entice customers.

"Given that [Virgin] is late to the party, it was never going to be enough in isolation to gain ground against its rivals," said Ernest Doku of Uswitch.
"Instead Virgin has offered a sideswipe to the competition in the form of free Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger usage.
"Although these apps don't consume huge amounts of data, 42% of British mobile users continue to spend an extra £40 per year on out-of-tariff mobile charges - so every little helps."
Virgin Media is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that uses EE's network to provide its service, and already offers 4G tariffs to business customers.
Some smaller MVNOs such as TalkTalk Mobile are yet to provide 4G services, although Virgin Media is the last of the big players to switch on a high-speed service for consumers.
Addressing the delay, a Virgin Media spokesman told the BBC: "We wanted to make sure we launched 4G properly and wanted to do something different from our competitors."
That difference is zero-rating WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger so that customers can send as many messages, photos and videos as they wish, without using up their monthly data allowance.
Virgin Media said the tariffs respected new EU net neutrality regulations, designed to ensure that all data is treated equally, regardless of its content.
"Neither the EU net neutrality regulations nor the subsequent Berec guidelines prohibit the zero rating of services," the company said.
"This offer does not result in any blocking or throttling of content, and there is no prioritisation of WhatsApp or Messenger traffic."
It added that customers would be charged £2 a day if they used up their data allowance and continued to access online services, including the two messaging apps.
"WhatsApp and Messenger are only zero rated so long as contract data remains," it said.
The company told the BBC that there was no financial agreement between Virgin Media and Facebook, and that it was "open" to including other messaging apps in its 4G tariffs in the future

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