Virgin Introduces Rollover Data

Good news for mobile data users who are prone to exceeding their data cap: Virgin Mobile has announced the introduction of rollover data.

This means that all of your unused data from a given month will rollover, and be added to your mobile data cap for the following month.

However, you should be warned that this data will not accrue indefinitely - it is only valid for one month.

If you’re the kind of user who uses all of your mobile consistently - and perhaps has to purchase an additional data pack - this new provision won’t be of much value. Virgin said that fewer than 20% of their customers fall into this category.

Far more common are users who occasionally exceed their limit. Around 40% of users will exceed their cap at some point in a given six month period.

For those users the unused data from the month before will provide a welcome buffer, and may obviate the need to purchase an additional data pack. Virgin’s own modelling suggests that about 50% of these customers will see savings due to data rollover.

When asked whether this would affect Virgin’s mobile revenue, CEO David Scribner suggested that modelling had suggested that any impact would be minimal, though stressed that they’d be closely monitoring how it worked out in the real world.

Virgin’s move follows the introduction of rollover data by major US carriers AT&T and T-mobile late last year. Like Virgin, AT&T only provide a single month of rollover, while T-mobile allows the data to accrue for an entire year. (I should stress here that US mobile plans are considerably more generous than Australian ones.)

When asked why Virgin was only allowing a one-month rollover, they responded that doing so was consistent with the way voice and text currently rolls over. Telcos love to trot out the ‘consistency’ line, as though customers would grow disoriented or enraged at the inconsistency of having the data last longer.

Anyway, I don’t mean to suggest it isn’t a pretty good deal. It is, and is much welcome. All Virgin postpaid customers who sign up from now on (after March 4) will automatically enjoy this new feature. Pre-existing customers will have to upgrade their plan (at no cost and without signing a new agreement).

Virgin Mobile is an MVNO that runs on the Optus network, including LTE capacity. It is the largest MVNO in the Australian market, with a market share behind only Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. While it isn’t a cheap as some of the truly budget providers, it does historically boast more competitive pricing than Optus or Telstra.

If you feel that data rollover would be of value to you, then you should certainly check them out.