Frequently Asked Questions about Network Management
Virgin Mobile provides wireless broadband Internet to its customers using the Sprint Wireless Data Network.
Virgin Mobile and Sprint are committed to providing the best wireless broadband Internet access service experience possible for all of its customers. To ensure that all users enjoy the best possible network experience, Sprint uses reasonable network management practices that are consistent with industry standards. Sprint also prohibits certain wireless data customers from engaging in certain data uses. Information concerning these prohibited uses can be found in Virgin Mobile point-of-sale materials and online in our Important Terms of Service found at www.virginmobileusa.com/legal/terms-of-service
The following Frequently Asked Questions are intended to help clarify for Virgin Mobile customers what we mean by network management and explain Sprint's network management techniques and approaches.
Why does Sprint manage its network?
Sprint manages its network with the goal of delivering the best possible wireless broadband Internet access experience to all of its retail customers. Wireless network resources are not infinite. Managing the network is essential to promote the use and enjoyment of wireless data by all network users. Sprint uses reasonable network management practices that are consistent with industry standards. Sprint also strives to use tools and technologies that are intended to be minimally intrusive. Just as the Internet continues to change and evolve, so too, will Sprint's network management practices to address the challenges and threats on the Internet.
If Sprint didn't manage its network, network users would be subject to the negative effects of spam, viruses, security attacks, network congestion, and other risks and degradations of the service. By engaging in reasonable and responsible network management, Sprint can deliver the best possible broadband Internet access experience to all users of the network.
How does Sprint manage its network?
Sprint uses various tools and techniques to manage its network, allow Virgin Mobile to deliver our service and ensure compliance with our prohibited network use and related requirements, which are available in Virgin Mobile point-of-sale materials and online at www.virginmobileusa.com/legal/general-terms-and-conditions. These tools and techniques are dynamic, like the Sprint network and its usage, and Sprint may update the tools and techniques it uses. Sprint's network management activities may include identifying spam and preventing its delivery to customers, detecting malicious Internet traffic and preventing the distribution of viruses or other harmful code or content, allocating spectrum and network resources amongst customers, devices, and price plans and using other tools and techniques that Sprint may be required to implement in order to meet its goal of allowing Virgin Mobile to deliver the best possible broadband Internet experience to all of its customers.
Does network management change over time?
Yes. The wireless industry is highly dynamic. As the Internet and related technologies continue to evolve and advance, Sprint's network management tools will evolve and keep pace so that we can deliver an excellent, reliable and safer online experience to all of our customers. We will provide updates here and in other appropriate locations if we make important or significant changes to our network management techniques.
Does Sprint employ any type of data compression or optimization on the Sprint network today?
Yes, Sprint deploys Network Optimization capabilities for video and web traffic on the Sprint Wireless Network. Intent is to improve overall user experience and increase network efficiency. Optimization helps improve page load times and reduces video stalling. The optimization technology provides for the elimination of wasted data transmission that results from lack of coordination between applications, network, and device, for example stopping transmission of video after a customer has stopped viewing it. It also matches media transmission quality to the capability of the device viewing the media. In addition, for customers on devices or plans subject to prioritization management, Sprint may limit streaming video throughput or put in place other prioritization policies as needed to ensure efficient use of network resources. These network management practices reduce network data tonnage, freeing up capacity with the goal of providing an overall better network experience for all Sprint customers.
What specific types of optimization does Sprint employ?
Optimization is deployed for RTSP and HTTP video traffic and all HTTP web traffic. Video optimization uses four basic technologies:
- Video Delivery Synchronization: Delivers video "just in time" to the mobile device. Intent is to eliminate network waste associated with transmitting video that isn't watched.
- Quality Aware Transcoding. Matches video quality with network conditions in real time. Optimizes video for the bandwidth available to the user. Intent is to minimize or eliminate annoying video stalling. Similar in concept to the optimization techniques already employed by sites using adaptive streaming.
- Video Transcoding: Transcodes video with intent to optimize the video experience for the user while efficiently using network bandwidth. Provides for the elimination of video waste using techniques like replacing less efficient video codecs with more efficient ones. Optimizes video for the mobile device the customer is using.
- Intelligent Caching: Caches optimized video in the network with the intent of eliminating delay associated with internet video sites.
Web optimization uses three basic technologies:
- Caching: Caches web pages to help avoid delays associated with retrieval of the same internet content multiple times
- Text/Binary compression: Lossless compression of data and binary files using standard compression techniques supported by HTTP-compliant browsers.
- Image Compression: JPEG and GIF compression designed to reduce the size of images while maintaining no user perceptible loss of quality.
Do device software upgrades affect the performance of my device on Sprint's network?
From time to time, Sprint may push software updates to your device to improve device features, security, and performance. These updates may include components that optimize the way your device and application on the device use network resources by, for example, managing connections between a user's wifi networks and the Sprint network or by managing the intervals at which certain background application connect to the network. Updates that manage radio resources are intended to improve performance and device battery life while also maintaining a high quality user experience.
How does congestion management work?
Network bandwidth isn't infinite. In times of network congestion, the network segment or sector impacted doesn't have enough bandwidth to fully serve all customers requesting it. The network is designed to dynamically allocate available bandwidth in a way that is fair to all users. The fairness algorithms below describe the approach. The resulting impact to end user experience is that the user may temporarily experience slower-than-normal data speeds until the congestion has passed.
- On the Sprint 3G (CDMA) and 4G LTE networks, Sprint uses a proportional fairness scheduler algorithm that allocates network resources based on radio frequency signal quality and other metrics. During times of congestion, the proportional fairness scheduler algorithm ensures no one user is deprived of network resources.
- On the Sprint 4G WIMAX network, Sprint may periodically measure a user's bandwidth usage on a specific network segment or sector, as well as measure the overall bandwidth usage for all users on that segment or sector. At times when an individual user is consuming high amounts of bandwidth and at the same time the overall bandwidth is being used by all users on that network segment or sector at high levels, Sprint 4G customers may experience a temporary adjustment in available network resources until the conditions for network congestion have passed.
In addition to employing fairness algorithms, Sprint may also use prioritization to prevent network congestion. Customers on devices or plans subject to prioritization management may experience a reduction of throughput or speed or other prioritization policies as needed to make additional network resources available to users on higher priority devices or plans.
What type of prioritization occurs on the Sprint network today?
Sprint currently employs prioritization to improve data experience for the vast majority of users on Sprint's CDMA and LTE networks. The heaviest data users consume a disproportionate share of network resources and cause a negative user experience for the rest. To more fairly allocate network resources in times of congestion, customers falling within the top 5% of data users may be prioritized below other customers attempting to access network resources, resulting in a reduction of throughput or speed as compared to performance on non-congested sites.
How much bandwidth would I have to consume to fall within the top 5% of data users ? For example, how many movies would I have to download to be affected by network prioritization?
Though the exact amount of data used before a customer falls within the top 5% of data users will vary from month to month, currently customers who typically use 5 GB or more in a given month are likely to fall within the top 5% of data users. To get an estimate of approximately how much data certain activities use in a month, visit sprint.com/datacalculator.
If I fall within the top 5% of data users, how long will I be subject to network prioritization?
The top 5% of data users will be determined on a monthly basis. If a customer is identified as falling within the top 5% of data users, the customer will be subject to network prioritization for the following month. However, customers that continue to fall within the top 5% of data users will continue to be subject to prioritization.
How does congestion management impact me and my use of data services?
The goal of congestion management is to enable the majority of users to have access to a fair share of the network at peak times, when congestion occasionally occurs. Most customers will notice an improved wireless data experience due to Sprint's congestion management. Customers subject to prioritization may experience reduced throughput or speed compared to their normal experience on non-congested sites.
How often does Sprint expect to use congestion management?
Because of the peaked nature of wireless data traffic, congestion management software is actively looking for network congestion at all times. When it detects congestion, both the fairness algorithms described above and network prioritization are triggered to ensure that more Sprint customers enjoy the best possible network experience.
Sprint monitors how user traffic is affected by congestion management and makes adjustments as reasonably necessary to ensure that our wireless data users have a high-quality wireless broadband Internet access experience. Sprint also evaluates its overall network performance and enhances its network by adding capacity or making other network adjustments to address congestion and performance issues.
How does congestion management relate to the various monthly data usage thresholds?
They are two separate issues. Congestion management works to optimize the experience of all users in the congested area. It works independent of any caps or overage charges that may apply based on the user's price plan and monthly usage.
Does Sprint give priority to any devices or plans?
Yes. In addition to the heavy user treatment outlined above, Sprint also reserves the right to alter the priority of other customers on specific devices or plans on the Sprint network. Customers on devices or plans subject to prioritization management may experience a reduction in throughput or speed. This ensures additional network resources are available to users on higher priority devices or plans. Sprint reserves the right to initiate additional prioritization management policies on plans and devices subject to prioritization at its sole discretion as needed to allocate network resources to higher priority devices or plans.
Does congestion management target peer-to-peer ("P2P") or other applications or make decisions about the content of my traffic?
Virgin Mobile's service plan terms prohibit some types of data usage and Virgin Mobile reserves the right to take action when customers violate these service terms, including but not limited to limiting data throughput speeds or quantities, or denying, terminating, ending, modifying, disconnecting or suspending your service, or declining to renew your service blocking the traffic, slowing the customer's effective data speeds, or discontinuing a customer's service. Details about these and other prohibited usage policies can be found in its service plan terms at www.virginmobileusa.com/legal/terms-and-conditions.
Do Virgin Mobile labeled products such as Virgin Mobile Live have precedent over other applications?
No. They are treated just like any other data application on the network and traffic from these applications is subject to the same congestion management controls as any other Internet traffic.
Does Sprint discriminate against particular types of online content?
Sprint and Virgin Mobile strive to deliver to our retail customers access to all the lawful content that the Internet has to offer. However, we are committed to protecting customers from spam, phishing, and other unwanted or harmful online content and activities. Sprint uses industry standard tools and generally accepted best practices and policies to help it meet this customer commitment. In cases where these tools and policies identify certain online content as harmful and unwanted, such as spam or phishing Web sites, this content is usually prevented from reaching customers. In other cases, these tools and policies may permit customers to identify certain content that is not clearly harmful or unwanted, such as bulk email or Web sites with questionable security ratings, and enable those customers to inspect the content further if they want to do so.
Does Sprint employ network security practices in addition to the congestion management technique?
Yes. Sprint uses normal industry security practices to protect the Sprint network elements from unauthorized access and attack.
Does Sprint have rules regarding the attachment of devices to its network by customers?
Yes. Only Sprint-approved devices may be used on the Sprint network.
Where can I find additional information regarding the performance of Virgin Mobile on the Sprint network?
Information concerning Sprint's coverage and network performance can be found using our coverage tool which can be found at: www.virginmobileusa.com/check-cell-phone-coverage. Information on the speed of Sprint's network can be found at: sprint.com/en/coverage/support/important_coverage_info_popup.shtml.
Where can I find additional pricing and other terms and conditions for Virgin Mobile broadband internet access?
Virgin Mobile Terms of Service and Important Service/Product Specific Terms, including guidelines on such topics as service plans, activation procedures, data usage and dispute resolution, can be viewed at: www.virginmobileusa.com/legal.
Detailed information on all of Virgin Mobile broadband internet access service plans for phones, broadband cards, laptops, tablets, mobile hotspots, and more can be found on Virgin Mobile's online shopping pages at: www.virginmobileusa.com/shop.html.
What is the Virgin Mobile policy for online privacy?
What should I do if I have a question or concerns related to my Virgin Mobile broadband internet access?
For questions that are not answered in this page, Virgin Mobile customers may contact customer care at 1-888-322-1122, by dialing 611, for Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go, by contacting customer care at 1-877-877-8443 or by any of the methods listed on our customer service contact page located at: https://www2.virginmobileusa.com/about/prepareEmailUs.do. For information on resolving disputes with Virgin Mobile, Please review our terms and conditions under the heading "Dispute Resolution" located here: www.virginmobileusa.com/general-terms-and-conditions.