Virgin Media allow 4G mobile customers to tweet for free

11 July 2017, 15:48   By Samantha Smith

VIRGIN Media have become the latest mobile provider to allow their customers to use a service without eating up any data, making Twitter "zero-rated" for anyone on a 4G plan with the provider.

virgin mobile and coffee cup
Credit: Najmi Arif/

In other words, customer using Twitter will no longer use up any of their monthly data allowance, although this doesn't apply to live video feeds, which are more data-intensive.

This makes Virgin Media the second provider in as many weeks to entice the public with data-free offers, after Three did something similar for Netflix, Deezer, Soundcloud and TVPlayer.

However, while there were suggestions that Three might be impinging on net neutrality with their Go Binge service, the more limited nature of Virgin Media's offering arguably prevents it from violating EU regulation.

Data-free social offerings

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The details of Virgin Media's offer are fairly simple, with customers being required only to download the Twitter app before being able to tweet about Love Island and Donald Trump to their hearts' content.

Other than that, the only thing they have to watch out for is live streaming, which will continue to use up their data allowances.

Still, while this might limit the benefits of the zero-rating somewhat, Virgin note that it will still benefit plenty of their customers, given that 87,000 of them log onto Twitter at least once a day, while 800,000 give the social media site a visit every month.

This deal's great news for Virgin Mobile customers who want to make sure they never miss the very best Tweets from across the globe.
Dara Nasr, Twitter UK

Elaborating further on its benefits, Virgin Media's managing director of mobile, Jeff Dodds, said the following, "Our customers want more than extra texts and minutes - they want innovative new services that really make a difference ... That's why we've expanded our data-free social offering to include Twitter".

Dodds then went on to mention the data rollovers that Virgin's 4G customers can also enjoy, enabling them to retain in the next month any unused portion of their monthly data allowance.

WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger

Not only does this increase the amount of data customers can save in conjunction with the zero-rating of Twitter, but it isn't in fact the first time that Virgin Media have attempted to attract new subscribers by preventing certain services from counting against a customer's data allowance.

Last November, they zero-rated WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, enabling customers to message friends and contacts without worrying about data limits.

As we mentioned in our article on Three's Go Binge service, Ofcom wrote a report on the compliance of UK telecoms providers with EU net neutrality legislation, and this zero-rating of Messenger and WhatsApp was actually mentioned in it.

It formed one of two cases of discussed in the study, with the other being 02's zero-rating of various music services, as part of their promotion between last September and December of the newly released iPhone 7.

Both cases were regarded by Ofcom as not being in violation of net neutrality legislation. In Virgin's case, the regulator concluded that the use of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger takes up so little data that "the incentives on users to avoid alternative messaging services will be limited in their effect."

A wave of zero-rating?

And in Virgin's defence, much the same could be said for their zero rating of Twitter. That's because, when live streaming is removed from the equation as Virgin have done so, the app doesn't consume that much data.

Still, while there's little specific danger to net neutrality from their offer, it's interesting to see that two mobile providers have come out with different zero-rated offerings in two weeks.

It will be even more interesting to see whether other providers will follow suit in the near future, and to see how a potential wave of zero-rating in the UK mobile industry could endanger net neutrality.

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