TruConnect Prepaid MiFi - My Review!
TruConnect prepaid MiFi officially launched with the company debut back
December 1, 2011. What makes TruConnect extremely unique is
not their MiFi broadband modem, as it has been in the wireless Internet
market for over awhile now. Rather, TruConnect is a truly
unique no contract pay as you go broadband company, because it
was the first provider to offer simple pay as you go
data pricing at $4.99/month and $0.039/MB. At the time of
launch they offered only this one plan type, available on both a USB
modem and a MiFi Hotspot modem.
As a result of its success, TruConnect later rolled out monthly plans
with a great variety of price points, as well as smartphone plans, and
even a Lifeline free cell phone service plan! Unfortunately,
it has since done away with it's pay-as-you-go model, which is very
disappointing, as I continue to receive messages from visitors to the
site who are still looking for this type of offer.
Unfortunately, it tends not to generate sufficient revenue to
allow companies to be highly profitable, and doesn't enable sufficient
growth to keep investors interested.
Upon the company's launch, I contract them regarding testing their
service. They were happy to oblige, and sent me a free
prepaid MiFi device to test. Along with it, they sent me a
prepaid Visa debit card with $20 loaded, so I could test the full user
experience. Following my testing (approximately one
month), I returned the modem to them. As per usual, please
rest assured that I was not paid, nor received any type of incentive to
provide a positive review. The review that follows is 100%
unbiased (as is the spirit of this entire website), and represents my
personal experience and opinions. I hope you find it useful!
Also, please note that despite my test being awhile ago now,
their service has only expanded and improved.
I should also add that TruConnect's President and CEO participated in
an executive interview with Prepaid-Wireless-Guide.com, which you can
find at Kevin
Hamilton TruConnect Mobile Interview
TruConnect MiFi Packaging
The modem was the same Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile
Hotspot that we were used to seeing on virtually every carrier offering
hotspot (prepaid and postpaid) at the time. Unlike the Virgin
Broadband2Go packaging (that I
previously reviewed, and which has
since been discontinued), the TruConnect
completely non-branded, and comes straight from Novatel. I'm
not going to go into the contents of the box as the hardware
essentially mirrors that described in the Virgin
I will note that when I opened the box there was a piece of paper with
instructions on how to
start the activation process, and how to contract TruConnect customer
support. It was black and white and printed on cheap
paper. While some may feel that this, coupled with the
non-branded box, represents a non-premium or low quality brand, I was
happy to see that expenses are being managed closely, allowing
customers to benefit from the lowest possible pricing.
TruConnect Prepaid MiFi
The activation process was extremely painless, and involved a simple
account creation process, followed by a topup (i.e. payment) step.
My only gripe/issue with the process came when trying to
follow the instructions to login to the MiFi router during the
activation process. A password is required and the
instructions point you to the Novatel website to download the user
manual (which is actually Verizon branded, which is odd because
TruConnect runs on the Sprint network). However, the password
is nowhere to be found. Having used the 2200 MiFi hotspot
numerous times before from other providers, I knew the default password
is "admin", so I was
able to login. For customers who are new to this type of
device, I could see this resulting in a call to their support staff,
which would be an easily avoidable step. The URL for the
(http://220.127.116.11) and default password should simply be printed on
the piece of paper with the activation instructions to avoid any chance
Making a Payment
At the time of this review, only credit/debit cards were accepted for
payment online; there's no means of paying cash without loading cash
onto a prepaid debit card. For me this isn't an issue as
using a credit card on autopay is my preferred payment method anyway.
That said, this could be a potential barrier for some
prospective customers. Upon initial payment, the $4.99
monthly fee was charged. The nice thing is that it was
so no matter when you activate the modem during a month, you'll be
charged a prorated amount for the days remaining in that month.
In other words, the plan is billed monthly on the first of
the month, so you don't have to worry about keeping track of a random
bill due date. Though, some people will want to select their
payment date based on their personal preference or situation (ex. on a
pay day). I'm not sure if changing the date is possible,
though I don't expect it is based on how the payment model works.
That said, for a $4.99 monthly payment, building such
flexibility likely would not be a cost effective strategy.
Auto pay is a default, and mandatory service whereby your card is
charged $10 on the day that your account reaches below a $2 threshold.
Personally I like this type of functionality, and have built
such programs for prepaid wireless carriers in the past. This
way you know for certain that your account will always be available
(assuming your card payment doesn't fail). For a product like
this where people may only be using it on occasion, this is a
particularly helpful, and arguably, necessary feature.
Each time a payment was made I received a confirmation email receipt,
including an email notification when the payment failed (when my $20
prepaid debit card balance had been depleted). Overall, I
found the payment experience to be intuitive, as expected, and
generally a smooth experience.
Connecting to the MiFi ,
Data Speed, Battery Life, and VPN
As I went into detail on these topics
in my Virgin
I won't go into them again here. I will, however, note that
the speed I experienced seemed slower than I recall experiencing
previously with the same device on the same network, while using it in
the same locations. I can't help but wonder whether Sprint is
throttling speed for it's MVNO
partners, or if the data network traffic is being prioritized
differently compared to those using the host carrier's own devices.
Generally speaking, though, I have seen a deterioration of
data speeds on Sprint devices over the past couple of years, at least
in areas where I live, work, and play.
it to say that you won't want to use this (or any other 3G device) for
streaming videos, or any other real time data intensive activities.
For Internet, email, social networking, and general personal
or work related activities, you should be fine. In fact, I
used a similar device to build over 300 pages of this website!
Note, also, that they have since moved to 4G LTE modems, so
you wouldn't experience the same thing today.
TruConnect Prepaid MiFi
I have to say that despite a pay as you go data plan like
this being in high demand, I've always been concerned that I would be
stressed out about sucking back too much data, and spending a small
fortune just to check email or do basic Web browsing. I call
this "data usage anxiety." I was pleasantly surprised during
my testing how reasonable the cost actually was. Users will
want to be smart about how you're using data while on this type of
plan. With some basic steps, I think you too would be
pleasantly surprised by the actual cost. Some tips to
minimize unnecessary data usage:
- Check email using your Web browser instead of an email
client like Outlook. By default, mail clients will download
all emails and attachments, which can consume a lot of unnecessary
data. Using your Web browser (ex. Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) you can
download only the attachments you need at that time.
- Turn off automatic Windows updates. You can allow
it to check for updates, but you won't want to be downloading them on
this connection. Speed-wise you'll be ok, however, you'll be
paying to update Windows, and who wants to do that!
- Think about what software you have running in the
background on your computer that may be accessing the Internet (ex.
cloud music syncing, application updates, etc.). You'll may
want to turn those off! Generally speaking, this is good
practice anyway; you don't want your computer processor and
Internet bandwidth being consumed by all kinds of background processes.
- Opening a Web browser like Firefox or Chrome with a dozen
(or dozens!) of tabs opened will require data to load, as usually
cached versions are updated upon a restart. Starting up your
browser before connecting to your TruConnect prepaid MiFi can help
avoid consuming data.
- Monitor your usage closely for the first week or so (or 10
or 15 times you connect) to get a feeling for how much data you're
using for your typical tasks. This is also true for monthly
plans to ensure you purchase the correct bucket of data to meet your
Lastly, I have to say that the TruConnect online account activity
details were very easy to read, and quite helpful and informative.
It lists the Date and Time (start and end), the MB of data
used during that period, how much it cost, and your total cash
balance remaining. Using their online chat support I was told
that the site refreshes approximately every 15 minutes, which is very
reasonable. It also shows your auto top-up activity.
Within your account you can also manage your payment devices
(i.e. credit/debit cards), view payment history, etc.
Although TruConnect no longer offers this pay-as-you-go plan, they have
plans that start at $5/month, which is quite reasonable even for
infrequent users. In addition, they've now proven that they
are a viable business, and have a number of years of experience.
Thus, you can rest assured that they're likely to be around
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TruConnect Prepaid MiFi