Broadband2Go: Mobile broadband without the contract

Providing pay as you go mobile broadband seems like a great idea. Service providers must agree, as more plans are becoming available.

Switching jobs meant turning in my 3G data modem. I didn't use it much, but it saved the day on more than one occasion. For now, my iPhone manages to fill in, if Wi-Fi or guest networks aren't available. Besides, Apple and AT&T are promising that tethering will eventually be allowed. So, I can afford to be patient.

That was until I found tethering my iPhone was going to cost me an additional $55 US per month. That's on top of the existing $30 US data charge from AT&T. Heck, the pricing isn't any different from regular 3G data modem plans. Not the kind of expenses I'm willing to pay for the next 24 months.


I resigned myself to wait until AT&T allowed tethering. At least that way, I didn't have to buy another 3G data modem. Then a friend mentioned something about pay as you go mobile broadband plans. That sounded interesting.

I was surprised at the number of available plans. I managed to narrow the choices down to Verizon and Virgin Mobile. Finally deciding on Virgin Mobile's Broadband2Go due to lower prices. I bought my Broadband2Go data modem for $99 US. Virgin Mobile's rates are shown below:

Both Verizon and Virgin Mobile use the Ovation MC760 by Novatel Wireless. The EVDO modem has been getting good reviews. I found it to work better than my previous data modem.

Figure A
Setup is simple. Plug the modem into an USB port and follow the prompts. Once configured, the Broadband2Go client software opens the Web browser, accessing Virgin Mobile's Web site. There you decide what plan and how to pay for it. Every time after that, the window in Figure A will open automatically when the data card is plugged in. Speed Tests

Next, I went to DSLReports Web site, putting the Ovation MC760 through its paces. With full bars, download speed was 629 kb/sec and upload speed was 271 kb/sec. It's not great, but being able to access the Internet anywhere there is cell-phone reception more than makes up for it.

Final thoughts

If you do the math, pay as you go plans are more expensive per MB when compared to contract plans. But, for people with other Internet access options and only the occasional need, services like Broadband2Go are a valuable option.