Remember how we ran that story last week about Virgin Mobile laying the smackdown on manufacturer UI overlays? We liked that. But Virgin Mobile wants the Android community to know that they shouldn't consider the prepaid carrier a safe haven for illicit activities like rooting or custom ROMs - not that that's any different from all the other carriers. Here's what Virgin had to say:

"We do not endorse in any way end users using a non-officially tested operating system nor do we approve of 'rooting' devices.  This constitutes a violation of our terms of service and puts our network in jeopardy," a spokesperson said. "We endeavor to provide users a customizable Android experience within the limits of the tested and network approved Android OS."

This is pretty much word for word the rationale all carriers use against rooting and custom software, and it seems Virgin Mobile wants to make clear that, while it's committed to vanilla Android, user customization needs to be within the limits of what your phone allows without any sort of extra-contractual tinkering.

Is this a fair exchange - unfettered Android for an honesty policy on rooting and custom software? I think it's a better system than the one Verizon uses, for sure - locked-down-into-oblivion Android (excluding future HTC devices) and zero vanilla device choice (except the XOOM), resulting in a large and somewhat resentful community seeking to thwart those measures.

Sure, the argument that something like CyanogenMod 7 somehow puts a provider's network "in jeopardy" is something we can all agree is hyperbolic, but stock Android is a lot of the reason people use custom ROMs. For Virgin Mobile customers, the biggest reason to root 'n ROM has been all but made a non-issue (well, aside from some minor carrier bloatware).

Might offering users a choice to have vanilla Android actually reduce the number of rooted and custom ROM devices out there? Considering the fact that the tenacious Android developer community has rooted every major handset manufacturers have thrown at them, I don't think the carriers would have much to lose trying things Virgin's way.