For consumers who like the convenience of wireless Internet but don’t want to commit to yet another monthly contract, Virgin Mobile offers Broadband2Go, a pay-as-you go 3G data plan getting updated today.
The company, now part of Sprint’s prepaid group that includes Irvine’s Boost Mobile, added a 5 Gigabyte plan for $60, which the company considers as a “suitable replacement for at-home Internet broadband service.”
While that statement is arguable, the company notes that customers like the option of choosing a different plan each month so they can opt for a cheaper plan if they know they won’t be using wireless data much.
While there are no contracts or activation or termination fees, the drawback to any prepaid service plan is that minutes and megabytes can expire if you don’t use them. For example, the 5 GB plan must be used up within 30 days. Virgin’s smallest data plan, for $10, offers 100 megabytes and must be used up within 10 days.
Here’s the guide:
Virgin Mobile Broadband 2Go plans for 2010 Price Expires MBs/GBs* Web Browsing Video Emails $10 10 Days 100 MB 5 HRS 25 MIN 10,000 $20 30 Days 300MB 15 HRS 1 HR 25,000 $40 30 Days 1GB 50 HRS 4 HRS 100,000 $60 30 Days 5GB 250 HRS 21 HRS 500,000
*Data courtesy of Virgin Mobile
Comparably, Verizon Wireless’s 5 GB mobile broadband plan is $59.99 a month and may require a long-term commitment if you need a wireless modem to go with it.
Every level except the lowest is getting more megabytes with no change in price, as of today. When the Broadband2Go launched last June, the $60 plan included just 1 GB (read: “Virgin Mobile adds pay-as-you-go wireless Internet.”). The price of the wireless USB modem has also dropped to $99, from $149.
Broadband2Go uses Sprint’s 3G network, so expect speeds of about 600 kbps or slightly higher.
Virgin shared a little bit more about what customers are doing with the prepaid data service. Some 30 percent use it more than 4-times a week, while 16 percent used it to replace their at-home Internet connection. The biggest customer request: Larger data plans.
There should be a lot of news in the wireless data space this year, as newcomers like Cox and Time Warner (yes, the cable TV providers) jump in. Time Warner began wireless data service in December in Texas and North Carolina and plans to expand nationwide this year. Cox, meanwhile, plans to launch wireless service in Orange County sometime this month.
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