As confirmed on the official Virgin Mobile Twitter feed, customers of the cellular provider within the United States have been unable to send any text messages or access data over a 3G connection for the past several hours. A representative for the company posted “We’re currently experiencing a national data & text messaging outage. Our engineers are working to resolve it. Thank you for your patience,” on the Twitter feed around 4 p.m. Pacific time. The company has made no indication when the problem will be fixed and customers that call the Virgin Mobile customer service line to complain about the outage will hear a recorded apology with a similar message.
Virgin Mobile customers on Twitter have reported problems with accessing the network since midday. Previously acting as a virtual operator of mobile networks, Virgin Mobile didn’t actually maintain a physical network within the United States prior to 2009. Instead, the company resold cellular bandwidth from Sprint Nextel and didn’t allow roaming on other networks.
After Sprint purchased the company during mid-2009, the two companies have merged and Sprint has utilized the Virgin Mobile brand name. Sprint customers haven’t experienced any network issues today and company representatives haven’t issued a public statement regarding the Virgin Mobile texting and data outage.
Sprint Prepaid corporate communications representative Jayne Wallace has mentioned that the outage isn’t related to the upcoming data throttling changes that will go into effect on March 23. Once a user downloads 2.5GB of data within a billing cycle, data speed is scaled down to 256Kbps on a 3G connection for the remainder of the cycle. When the customer enters a new billing cycle, they can take advantage of higher speeds until the 2.5GB cap is reached again. According to Virgin Mobile policy, customers can halt the slow data speeds by paying off a bill early. This data throttling policy was implemented on Virgin Mobile’s Broadband2Go plans during February 2011.
UPDATE: As of 8 A.M. Pacific time on March 21, a Virgin Mobile representative has updated the company’s official Twitter feed with the following message: “The current outage has been resolved. If you are still experiencing issues, try removing your battery and restarting your device.”