Weighing mobile broadband options

Right now, I’m counting down to October 25, 2009. That is the day that my 2 year contract with Sprint will be fulfilled, and I can freely cancel my mobile data plan.

It served me well. When I was driving Laini 50 miles each way to school and back and needed to work from where I was, I used the USB EVDO modem constantly. There were some months that I was easily using 4GB of the 5GB “unlimited” plan. Now, I’m lucky if I use 500MB in a month. I still use the modem when I’m on the train to my office in DC at least once a month, or when I’m working from the waiting room of Laini’s physical therapy appointments and the free wifi the hospital offers is spotty, or when I lend the modem to Eric for his trips to Manhattan on the bus. But we’re certainly not getting enough use out of it to justify paying $68/month past the end of the contract.

JKOnTheRun has a post today that’s thinking along the same lines I am. Personally, I think it’s a matter of time before AT&T cracks down on folks who are tethering their iPhones without AT&T’s blessing, so I don’t want to go that route. And I expect AT&T’s own iPhone tethering plan when they get around to it to be ridiculously expensive. I can get a lot done with the iPhone alone, but there are times that working off a phone just won’t do.

Mobile broadband is a nice-to-have if I can find a reasonable option. I’ll do without it otherwise.

The MiFi looks interesting, but I would only want the as-you-use-it plan which would make the initial no-contract cost expensive. And it would mean opening an account with Verizon Wireless since Sprint doesn’t offer the pay-as-you-go plan. ::shudder:: I would rather stick sharp pins in my eye. Next!

Which leaves the Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go as a very viable option. Buy the modem for around $150 and then pay only when you know you’re going to use it. Based on our current usage patterns, we’d go from $68/month to maybe $10-20 a month, if that much. Tempting, until I noticed this:


No Mac drivers? Seriously? What is this, 1998?

Slashgear says that VirginMobile promises Mac support “in the weeks ahead.” Let’s see what they say in November (and how good the coverage is here on the east coast).


3 responses to “Weighing mobile broadband options”

  1. Doesn’t Sprint pro-rate their ETF? If so, maybe it would cost less to cancel now than keep paying the monthly bill until Oct.?

    (And nice work on your New Year’s Resolution. 🙂 )

    • True, but the problem is that I still get use out of the modem. Just not $68/month worth of use. So if I canceled now I’d have nothing, which isn’t what I’m looking for either.

  2. Thanks for this, Judi. We are looking for mobile broadband solutions so that Greg can be connected when we’re camping. We’ve got a trip in July that we need him to be accessible for. I emailed your post to him so that he can consider what you’ve learned. West Coast needs (particularly when you think about camping as opposed to city use) may change some of our options but still, hopefully, we’ve got options! 🙂