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Virgin Mobile Launches Pay-As-You-Go Mobile Broadband

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c3_larger1_vmmc76_gifVirgin Mobile (s vm) today announced its contract-free pay-as-you-go mobile broadband plan, dubbed “Broadband2Go.” The service, which runs on Sprint’s 3G network, offers a variety of data plans without a yearly contract or credit check, for much more money than comparable contract-based plans. So, is the service too expensive to be useful? Definitely not, and here’s why.

Contract-based data plans, from AT&T (s t), Sprint (s s) and Verizon (s vz), are all about the same price: $60 monthly for 5GB of data, with a two-year contract. It’ll cost $1,440 over those two years, whether data is used or not. Virgin Mobile offers four “plans” with various amounts of data usage, ranging from $10 for 100MB to $60 for 1GB. The data expires after 30 days (except on the lowest plan, which runs out after 10 days), whether you use it or not — no rollover here.

For a light data-user — someone who, say, only wants wireless data on vacation or while on a once-a-year business trip — the Virgin data card is perfect. Why waste hundreds of dollars on a 2-year contract when the card is going to sit unused most of the time? The occasional data user can buy the data card, toss it in their laptop bag, and buy data on their credit card whenever the need arises — without getting hit with nasty overage charges. The card simply shuts off when you run out of data. The Broadband2Go USB device goes on sale later this month exclusively at Best Buy (s bby), for $150.

21 Responses to “Virgin Mobile Launches Pay-As-You-Go Mobile Broadband”

  1. I was contacted by virgin airway 2go card to fill out a survey as to why I decided to not use the service. I could not find the survey from the IP address they provided. I tried to reply to them that I was having a problem finding the survey, but I did not get a response to my reply.
    [email protected]

  2. michelle perry

    I have used broadbands connection cards and bought the connection card and use the $60 plan and I like it for the most part. My only complaint is its hard to buy just enough to fit your budget and not more than neccassary because the service does expire. If I could suggest something it would be to let the service be used up and not expire because its paid for and then tooken away. Thats not far even if it’s supposedly to last a month.

  3. I got this product in hope for it work and it didn’t. They had me activate it 3!!! Times. In all of it i lost about $170 bucks. I have windows vista and it still didn’t work. If you want a very expensive jump drive then be my guest and buy it but i wouldn’t risk it.

  4. Amos Doyle

    I bought the card today for $149.00 plus a $20.00 “Top-off” card plus tax. I have spent all afternoon and this evening getting the service activated on my wife’s laptop. I know, I know it should be easy but in my experience nothing is really “easy” when it comes to installing new programs or hardware on old computers. One problem is that there are no comprehensive instructions provided. There is a silly little instruction outline that came with the card but it really doesn’t provide any assurance at all when the installation and activation don’t go smoothly. I did get on the internet finally but it seemed slower than I am used to using my wireless network and cable. I think that the “minutes” (megabites) seemed to tick off quickly. I don’t know, but I don’t have a good feeling about this service. Now I have to teach my wife to use it and that ain’t gunna to be easy!

  5. I just got back from a trip to the UK where I ended up buying a pay-as-you go mobile broadband card. Coming back to the US and looking for something similar, I’ve been astonished at the pricing difference… Here’s current UK pricing for comparison: £30 (about $50) for the card, then either £15/Gb no expiration (Vodafone), £10/Gb 1 month expiration (O2, Orange), £7.50/week unlimited “fair use” (T-mobile).

    I’m speculating, but perhaps this indicates a fundamental difference in perspective between the US and UK carriers: the former maybe see the product as a business-focused low-volume, high-margin product, whereas the latter seem to be positioning it as a mass-market substitute for home broadband connections.

  6. I just purchased a USB modem on Ebay for $49 and free shipping. I will then use their pay as you go plan for $15 for 24 hours. I am going on vacation and there will be a couple of days I will need access without looking for a hot spot. Now if there is a way to purchase an adapter from another party and use Virgins’ plans then I would go for that. Your thoughts are welcome.

  7. messenia

    Virgin’s concept is good but $150 for the adapter is much too high.

    I’m hoping that this is the start of some competition for the pay-as-you go customer.

  8. I suspect the prices will come down whats sad is I have verizon for wifi/mifi and I think Im lucky to break a gig a month. I need it at work because I have no internet access at work and Ive been using it as my backup for work as well. However having now decided to go to sprint for cell/blackberry service the option to keep my service maybe pointless. If the rates come down I cant see keeping my service as Im only using a gig a month roughly anyway it seems and maybe less. Somebody know if there is any rollover with the 1Gb plans or not just curious. (cause rollover would be the ideal situation if ya ask me on the cell side if you add mins you dont lose them)

  9. If you’re looking to connect your computer to the internet while on the go but don’t want to pay the ridiculous prices some providers are charging you should check out Virgin Mobile’s offering.

  10. I’ve been using a prepaid mobile broadband service in Europe (Germany at the moment) for a while now. And the offerings are much better. Currently, I’m using an O2 surf stick. I pay only EUR 25 ($34) a month for 10GB. You can pay over to monthly cost and it charges the SIM card and deducts per minute if you forget to top up on your monthly date. You don’t have to top up every month, just make sure you do it on the same day every month if you want contiguous service at the 25/month rate. Sometimes the service is really fast, other times it’s horrendously slow, but I imagine that’s true about mobile broadband anywhere. I use it as a permanent substitute for an internet connection at home because I move around so much that I can’t afford paying off 2-year contracts every 3 months when I hop to another country. Another bonus is each time I top up, I get a bonus 10-20 euros in call credit onto the SIM card that is in the USB modem. I get fairly decent rates using PAYG mobile across Europe (UK, Germany, France, Spain).

    I resent that every time I go home (back to the US), I feel like I’m reverting to some primitive contract system. What call it mobile communication if you’re tying people down with contracts?

    So this Virgin PAYG is a good start for the US, but I fear my home country lags behind in consumer-friendly technology.

  11. Andy M

    This is fantastic for those of us who just want the option 5-10 times per year and don’t want to pay $60/mo with a 2-year commitment! I am absolutely going to sign up for this.

  12. Jacob Varghese

    Pricing sucks, but I love the concept.

    If they can fix the pricing, i think this will be very attractive.
    Not sure what the costs are for Virgin.

    I think the the most attractive pricepoint would be somewhere around $30. That’s the additional cost of 3G phone tethering from Att.

    Why not 2Gb of data for $30?

    • Hey Mark,

      VMU wants to clarify information about its new Broadband2Go from Novatel Wireless. BB2G only supports Windows Vista or XP at this time. The Novatel Wireless unit does provides drivers that allow the device to be configured to connect on both MAC & Linux. The MAC drivers are preloaded on the MC760 along with a MAC user guide. [The MAC user guide clearly states that Virgin Mobile cannot support that.] However, you can get the device to work on your MAC or Linux machine by activating it first on a PC with Windows XP or Vista. Then follow instructions provided by Novatel Wireless and contact them for tech support. We hope to be able to include a method to activate on MAC in the future.

      Jon Lorenzini – Virgin Mobile