Virgin Mobile USA: Pay-Per-MB Nationwide 3G Has a “Good Until” Date


TN-538637_VM_MC760_FrontLooking for affordable 3G connectivity without the contracts? Hit up your local Best Buy Mobile later this month and ask them for a Virgin Mobile USA Broadband2Go card. You’ll pay $149.99 for the USB adapter, which is good for EVDO in these here parts. You’ll actually be using Sprint’s national data network, so this isn’t just a regional deal. There’s no commitment, contract or monthly fee for the service. Instead, you’ve got total flexibility based on how much data you want to consume and how long you want to use it. Yes, like a milk carton, your 3G access has an expiration date. Here are the initial offerings:

  • $10 = 100 MB of data over 10 days
  • $20 = 250 MB of data over 30 days
  • $40 = 600 MB of data over 30 days
  • $60 = 1 GB of data over 30 days

Now on a cost-per-MB basis, these don’t compare with the 5 GB (aka: “unlimited”) plans that U.S. carriers tend to offer for $60 a month. But those plans typically require a two-year commitment, which adds up to $1,440 for the data. Folks who are constantly on the go and don’t want to worry about how much data they use are well-suited for those plans. Someone who only needs a little 3G access every now and then might be better off with these smaller, cheaper plans from Virgin Mobile USA.

I’m actually wondering if my $10 Boingo Wireless plan could be supplemented by this. When I’m out, I’m usually at or near a Boingo location. When I’m not, I could do my basic work tasks for far less money than what I’m paying Verizon Wireless (s VZ) now. Hmm…



Nice try Virgin, but the expiration limits are idiotically short. Make it $60/GB/6 months and I’d bite. 30 days? Gimme a break.

Beau Lane

Why are they so expensive in the US in Australia on 3 Mobile and the usb 3g sticks are only $149 AUD and $139 AUD will get you 12GB and it dosnt runout 4 12mths what good as it only works out at $12 a month and the speed is good as well geting up to about 2-2.5mb/s


The most useful 3G/GPRS pay as you go deal in the UK, I find, is a scheme that only Vodafone operates, whereby for £15 you can have 1 GB of data, to be used as and when you like. That’s very expensive per GB, but if all you ever want to do is occasional e-mail and surfing when you’re out and about, it lasts for months. I’ve been using it for six months, for about 10 minutes most weekdays, and I’m not yet half way through that first 1 GB.

On occasions when I’m away from home on a trip for a few days, it’s more economical to use the type of scheme operated by T-mobile, Three and O2, whereby you can buy, say, 7 days’ worth of connectivity.

My main point is that with pay-as-you-go, it is viable, though a bit of a nuisance, to have dongles from the main operators, and to use them selectively depending on the pattern of your work and on the quality of the available networks. If you’re on a subscription, you’re more or less committed to one network – unless you’re rich enough to be able to afford several subscriptions.


as I coomented earlier on gbm, I consider it a rip-off.

In Germany I recently saw a no-contract 3g USB modem for 80 Euros, and you then pay 2.50 Euros each day you use it, with a DAILY quota of 1gb. And if you actually exceed that, they just throttle you to GPRS for the rest of the day.

That’s what I want!

Muhsen Abusneina

i wonder if this service is going to be offered in Canada?

Kevin N

Hmm. At least for Verizon, I don’t think you need a contract for data. Only if you want a subsidized device.

Bob P

I looked at the Virgin website – looks like no support for Mac??

Roy M

That got me wondering myself since the same card is supported on Sprint with the Smartview software and on Verizon (assuming its the same ovation modem that VZW has).


I’m still stuck on slow 2G for my mobile internet. Hooray!

These prices are closer to what I’d like to pay but still expensive (for me). Oh well

Rick Huizinga

I love the concept of pay-as-you-go data, and wouldn’t mind paying the high rates just as long as there would be no expiration date (or at least have a roll-over option).

AT&T has a pay as you go data option for their GoPhone plan, its $19.99 for 100MB but has rollover so that unused KB rollover as long as you by some more MBs before the end of 30 days.


10 bucks for 5 hours of web surfing doesn’t sound bad for casual use, but it seriously limits any webcam chats. What happens when you hit that 100MB? Do you get cut off with no way to get back on?

Also, while it’s using the Sprint network, what if I already have a device with built-in WWAN hardware that’s compatible with Sprint? Do I still need the USB stick for use?

Chris Bulow

I travel back to the UK every now and then and find the 3 Mobile PAYG dongles ideal for the week or 10 days I’m there, so this should work equally well for travel in the US.


I have one of these PAYG 3G Broadband USB modems on 3 Mobile in the UK. I just top-up on line and go. It does not expire here.

These are very handy, and convenient.

Saves the expense of a contract when you only have a casual need.

But I think a PAYG MIFI would be even better, heres hoping 3 Mobile offers it soon in the UK.


I think it would be cool if one could combine this with an iPod Touch. You can get the joy of the iPhone without monthly fees but still have the ability to reach the web when out of WiFi range in emergency scenarios.

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