The Bottom Line
Fast, easy and cost-effective mobile Internet access for the occasional user. Great for travelers who don’t need mobile Internet access every month or who want the flexibility to turn their service on and off.
- No commitment mobile Internet access
- Relatively low initial price for access hardware
- Inexpensive (starting at $10) top-up amounts.
- Good speed
- Easy to use
- May cost more than monthly plans for heavy users
- Virgin doesn’t own its own network. It uses the Sprint Nextel one instead.
- Small USB device plugs into your computer to provide Internet access.
- Also requires a plan. Plans start at $5 for 200 MB for 1 day.
- Plans go up to $55 for 1 GB for 30 days.
- Built-in usage meter lets users know how much they have left.
- Can also be used as a “flash” drive when used with a separate microSD™ card.
- Plug and play support provides automatic installation.
- Currently works only for Windows PCs (XP, Vista, Windows 7). Macs are not supported.
- Cost: $99.99
Guide Review - Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go Mobile Internet Access
These days, it’s hard to live without Internet access while traveling. And while Starbucks, hotels, and other WiFi hotspots are helpful, there have been plenty of times what I really wanted was the ability to connect my netbook to the Internet, anywhere I wanted.
However, I never needed it enough to warrant a $60 or $40 per month additional data fee from my cell phone provider. I already pay enough to my cell phone provider and don't want to commit to additional money whenever I can avoid it.
But now I can. Virgin Mobile’s Broadband2Go is one of the first services to make no commitment, no contract mobile Internet access easy, fast, and affordable. It’s perfect for light or moderate travelers who want the freedom of occasional Internet access without the requirement of having to commit to a one- or two-year data plan.
Broadband2Go is available from Virgin Mobile’s website. Users simply need to purchase the Broadband2Go Wireless USB Card ($99.99) and then select a plan. Plans start at $5 a day and range up to $55. The $5 plan is good for 1 day, while the rest are good for 30 days. Slip the card into the USB port on your Windows (sorry, no Macs!) computer, install the included software, enter the code for your plan, and you’ll be surfing the net instantly.
I recently gave Broadband2Go a thorough trial on a trip to Orlando, accessing the Internet from my netbook from a variety of locations—airports, hotels, parking lots and more. Overall it worked really well and was worth the money. In a few locations, the service was slow, but still useable. In other locations it was very speedy.
I expect we’ll see more mobile providers offering mobile data plans for occasional users. Let’s hope they’re all as good and cost effective as Virgin Mobile’s.