Virgin Mobile appears to be experiencing another semi-major data service outage. Just before 3 p.m. EST, both of my Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 devices stopped working. They reported that they were not activated. After several attempts to reactivate the devices, I called the technical support phone line as instructed by the device control panel.
As I mentioned last month, I took the plunge into Windows Phone 7 on the AT&T network. For me, this is the first smartphone I’ve owned on my personal cellular account. I’ve had two other smartphones in the past; a Samsung Windows Mobile device on Verizon about 8 years ago and an iPhone 3G on the AT&T network for the last two years; but I’ve never had to track my usage or pay for those, as they were provided by my employers at the time. With the iPhone, at least (I’m not sure about the Samsung device), the data plan was unlimited, so there was nothing to track.
However, with my new Windows Phone handset, I selected the lower-tier data plan on AT&T’s network (200 megabytes of data for $15/month).
I logged into my Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go account the other day and noticed something new. Previously, I had two plan options: $10 for 100 megabytes (or 10 days, whichever comes first) and $40 for unlimited data (lasts for one month). However, there is now a third option in the list.
It seems, since I bought my MiFi from Wal-Mart, I can get one month of service with 1 gigabyte of data for only $20. Obviously this plan wouldn’t work for me as my sole source of broadband (I know I use a lot more than 1 gig each month), but it is probably a great deal for people that just use the MiFi occasionally or strictly for Web browsing (no downloads).
I initially thought you could get this deal if you simply bought a new top-up card at Wal-Mart, but this article seems to indicate that it is only available to customers that bought (or buy) their MiFi devices at Wal-Mart. Sadly, at this point in time, Wal-Mart seems to be charging $40 more than list price (and Best Buy is charging $50 more; both according to their websites – Radio Shack is still selling the device at the $149 list price) for the MiFi devices, so you’re most likely going to have to decide how much you think you might use this mid-tier plan before you decide whether to buy the device at Wal-Mart.
Since I am still stuck with satellite broadband service at home, I decided to try it out. I’ve been looking into mobile broadband packages for quite a while, but the thought of signing a new two-year contract, paying almost as much as I’m paying now (the satellite package I have is $79.95/month – most mobile broadband packages are around $60/month) and being limited to around 2 gigabytes of downloads each month (my current plan allows 17 gigs on a revolving 30-day basis) really didn’t appeal to me.
This new plan from Virgin, though, had me intrigued. No contracts, apparently no bandwidth limits (I have seen no official word from Virgin as to whether there will be “reasonable use” limits imposed at any point, but, right now, it doesn’t look like it) and a price point half of what I am paying now all really appealed to me.
Last weekend, we went to Costco and signed up for a new AT&T Wireless family plan. We cancelled our Nextel service, for which we were paying about $100/month for two phones. We replaced it with a new AT&T Wireless family plan for which we will pay about $110/month for four phones with twice as many minutes and unlimited text, picture and video messaging.