Virgin Broadband pulled from general retailers

Virgin Broadband – the wireless internet service sold by Virgin Mobile – is the latest casualty of Optus’ ailing 3G mobile network.

Virgin Mobile has pulled the Virgin Broadband product from mass merchant retailer shelves as it continues to be bombarded with complaints from consumers about the quality of the service.

In APC’s October 2008 wireless broadband labs challenge we called for the Virgin Broadband service to be withdrawn from sale until the problems with the Optus mobile network could be fixed.

Shortly after Optus pulled its own Wireless Fusion service which was similar to the Virgin Broadband wireless internet service and delivered over the same network citing network performance issues.

Virgin Mobile spokesperson Amber Morris said the telco would continue to sell the product directly to consumers via its own stores its website and call centre but wanted to have full control over the process of checking a customer’s coverage before selling the service to them.

Virgin has tried a number of things in the past month to resuscitate the product including testing the removal of the 750Kbit/s speed cap it applied to customers’ connections to see if that would resolve overall speed issues.

The federal government is investigating Virgin Broadband parent Optus’ network quality following ongoing press coverage of outages and poor speeds and is considering whether it should exclude the company from the Australian Broadband Guarantee rebate scheme ZDnet reported this week.

“We really want to make sure that because there’s
been a lot of press about the quality of the services on that
network to make sure that that network is robust” said Simon Cobcroft from the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy.

“We’re looking at that at the moment
and I think probably only a few weeks away we’ll make a
determination on whether we consider those networks to be
metro-comparable” he said.

Optus’ Managing Director of products and delivery told ZDNet journalist Suzanne Tindal that the continual outages and problems on the Optus 3G network were ‘normal’ and that all carriers have these sorts of issues.