One thing modern technology and being a gadget freak brings is lots of monthly bills. iPhone, Netflix, Satellite, home internet. When you think about it, it seems we are being nickel and dimed to death with monthly charges. Being a father of two and earning a meager wage, the addition of more of these monthly charges is not an option. There are many new mobile internet devices that look compelling, but I never can work the monthly fees into my budget. Enter Virgin Mobile’s Broadband2Go.
Virgin Mobile was kind enough to send me a Broadband2Go Wireless USB Modem to try out. The big difference in the Broadband2Go offering is the lack of monthly or annual charges. The service is pay as you go and offers several options starting at $10. This is exactly what I needed. There are times I would like to be wireless for a trip or during certain sports, but I am not willing to pay for the services the entire year. With the Broadband2Go Modem, I am able to pay for what I think I will use without a contract or any attachments. As a matter of fact, I am fixing to renew my modem for our upcoming family vacation so I can keep up with my writing while on the road.
The Broadband2Go comes with the device, a quick start guide, Novatel user guide and a lanyard for the device. The device itself is the size of a larger USB drive. Carrying and storing the modem is super easy. The modem is compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Mac OS X, 10.3 or higher. I am using the modem with my 13″ MacBook Pro running OS X, 10.6.3 with nothing but great results. There is also a Micro SDTM slot making the modem double as a USB storage device.
Using the device is as simple as plugging into the USB on your computer and following the onscreen instructions. I was up and running in mere minutes. After the initial use, the device will become ready and the user simply clicks connect. The Broadband2Go monitor shows current usage time with up and down stats and connection strength. The screenshot below shows only one bar which is common for my area. There is no 3G data and very little cell phone coverage here.
The Broadband2Go Wireless USB Modem uses Sprint’s nationwide network using EVDO Rev. A technology. To see if you are covered by the service check out the coverage map found here. Even though I do not have 3G service in my area, I am able to use the device successfully. It is not as fast as my home WiFi, but was surprisingly faster than I had expected. I actually will use the modem for trips and out-of-town games during my sports seasons. On a recent trip to West Texas to attend Judie’s wedding, I was able to use the Broadband2Go modem nearly the entire way. We travelled up I-10 from San Antonio and connection speeds were fast and reliable. I was not able to get service at Judie’s ranch, but as she would agree, she lives in the beautiful open expanses of West Texas where very little services are provided.
There are several options for purchasing service for the modem. Credit or debit cards can be registered for use as well as cash, which Virgin Mobile calls “top up.” My first question was how to know how much data has been used, or when the amount paid for runs out. Clicking on the top banner of the connection manager opens the user’s DataCard. This is where usage details are provided along with options to purchase more services. I was surprised how little data light internet surfing uses. Of course, I was not streaming music or watching videos while using the modem.
So far, I am happy with the performance and connections I have received with the Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go USB Modem. The flexibility of use is perfect for anyone not interested in the $30-$60 per month charges other providers offer. If you do not feel the need for mobile broadband or do not have the money, simply wait to use the service when it is needed.
Check out more information and order your Broadband2Go modem directly from Virgin Mobile.
MSRP: On sale for $79.99 with plans ranging from $10-$60
What I like: Simple to use. Pay as you go service!
What could be improved: I wish my small Texas town was included in the 3G coverage.