Virgin Mobile is making some major changes to their Broadband2Go service for wireless USB sticks and mobile hotspots.
Next Thursday, May 31st, Virgin will launch two new 4G WiMAX devices (pictured below), the $149.99 Overdrive Pro 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot and the $99.99 Franklin U600 3G/4G USB Stick. To go with the new devices there are two new plans, $35/month for 2 GB of 3G data and $55/month for 5 GB of 3 GB data. Both plans include unlimited 4G data with the first 10 GB at full 4 G speeds, the rest throttled to 256 Kbps. The new plans, which can be used with Virgin's older 3G broadband devices, are available now.
Virgin Mobile's old 3G Broadband2Go devices have been discontinued. The old plans are being phased out too. They will be available to new users until July 4th, 2012 and will be grandfathered for current users after that. Here's a table comparing the old and new plans.
|Old Price||Term||Data||New Price||Term||Data|
|$10||10 days||100 MB|
|$20||30 Days||500 MB|
|$20 (Walmart only*)||30 Days||1 GB||$35||30 Days||2 GB 3G, Unlimited 4G**|
|$30||30 Days||1 GB||$55||30 Days||5 GB 3G, Unlimited 4G**|
**4G data throttled to 256 Kbps for the rest of the month after 10 GB has been used
The old plans will no longer be offered for new activations after July 4th. According a new Broadband2Go FAQ on the Virgin site, users who activated a device on one of the old plans are grandfathered and may keep their current plan unless they switch to another plan or the plan is discontinued by Virgin Mobile. Although Virgin doesn't mention it in their press release or FAQ, I suspect that grandfathered users who let their plans expire and don't pay their monthly charge within the 120 days grace period after their last payment date will also lose their old plans.
The new plans offer faster WiMAX 4G data and a lower price per megabyte. But I don't like the elimination of the lower priced plans, which were good for light users or those who only need wireless broadband for a few days a month. You can check your WiMAX and 3G coverage here.
So how fast is WiMAX? According to Virgin Mobile, 4G speeds average 3 - 6 mbps compared to 600 kbps - 1.4 mbps with 3G EVDO. However WiMAX coverage is considerably smaller than EVDO coverage. According to virgin Mobile WiMAX covers 120 million compared with 278 million covered by Virgin's 2G and 3G.