David Pogue of the New York Times reviews Virgin Mobile’s pay-as-you go MiFi: Once you’ve paid $150 for the MiFi itself, you get unlimited wireless broadand on the Sprint network for up to five devices at a time. For an amazingly reasonable $40 a month. If I weren’t on contract with Verizon for a MiFi for the next 18 months–at $60 a month–I’d be on this deal in a nanosecond.
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Is the Future of Mobile Broadband Pay As You Go?
Over the past few weeks, I have been considering a mobile broadband solution. My reasoning is two-fold: I’d like a backup in case my regular connection fails–Comcast here has become somewhat spotty as of late–and something for when I’m on the road at a conference and don’t want to depend on the available Wi-Fi, which is sometimes unreliable.
For the time being, I have settled on Virgin Mobile’s Broadband2Go offering (I’ll have a review of it coming in a week or two after I’ve put it through its paces). It’s cheap, the initial cost of startup is not high, and it’s now Mac compatible. But while at Wal-Mart, I was shocked to see Verizon and AT&T are now offering their own prepaid plans. I must have missed their announcements–and it’s kind of surprising to me that those companies be interested in getting into the game.
A Better Deal on Prepaid Wireless Broadband
Virgin Mobile’s prepaid Broadband2Go wireless Internet access service (which runs on Sprint’s network) has been an intriguing option for folks who need to go wireless only sporadically, or who don’t want to commit to a long-term contract. But at $40 for 1GB of data, it’s been pretty pricey.
Now Virgin has a new plan: 5GB for $60. That happens to be exactly what I pay Verizon Wireless. If I wasn’t only one year into a two-year agreement, Broadband2Go would be awfully tempting…
Pay As You Go Mobile Broadband a Reality
Nothing beats mobile broadband on your laptop. While yes the size of the iPhone is nice, sometimes you need a full computer to do some of those more intensive tasks. Virgin Mobile is set out to make that a lot easier.
The carrier will begin selling a USB dongle produced by Novatel Wireless later this month for $149.99, but the best part about it is there’s no monthly fee or contract. Users will buy refill cards for the service much like they do for a prepaid phone.
Instead of minutes, the prepaid cards would be sold in denominations of megabytes. The cheapest card would be 100MB for $10, although it would also expire in 10 days.
All the rest of the denominations would expire within 30 days, and include a 250MB card for $20, a 600MB card for $40, and a 1GB card for $60. While yes, you can get 5GB of data for $60 through other carriers, you have that pesky contract to worry about.
Virgin’s broadband plan seems to make sense for occassional users. I would venture to guess there could be a potentially large untapped market here. Really, mobile broadband only makes sense for business right now due to its prohibitive price.
Some seem to be complaining over the short expiration periods. While I tend to agree, at the same time I see Virgin’s desire to attempt to make this as stready of a revenue stream as possible.
Either way, it’s a start, no?
Laid-off Virgin Mobile Customers to Get Free Service
Paying bills when you’re laid off can be quite difficult (trust me, I know). If you’re a customer of Virgin Mobile, that is about to get a whole lot easier. The company introduced a service called “Pink Slip Protection,” which offers to pay the phone bill of those who are laid off.
To be eligible, the customer must be subscribed to Virgin’s $49.99 monthly unlimited plan — another new offering from the carrier announced Thursday — and customers of the carrier for at least two months previous. In addition, the customer must also be receiving unemployment benefits.
Several automakers have offered similar assurances to their customers, but this is the first time a cellular phone carrier has offered such a courtesy. It is also a function of ever more desperate companies, realizing that the first thing people do in hard times is clamp down on spending.
As Virgin has no contracts, customers do not lose anything by canceling at will.
The $49.99 unlimited plan represents a $30 price drop from its previous offering, and puts it in line with other budget carriers. There is no text messaging or data included however.
New plans and services will go into effect on April 15.