Prepaid Cellular for Laptop

by John Connell
(Fort Lauderdale, Fl)

Hi. Thanks for your help.

I currently pay Verizon $60 on a month to month for wireless USB internet connection. (You know, those thingies that plug in the side of your laptop for internet by cellular.) I hardly ever use it as I have another contract for home internet that I use all the time.

It is for the few times power or service goes out or sometimes on my laptop in a moving car. So essentially as backup.

My question is: Can I get a USB cellular for my laptop where I pre-purchase minutes that don't expire each month? It seems like that is a drawback to an otherwise great solution.

Comments for Prepaid Cellular for Laptop

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Feb 17, 2010
Pay-Per-Use Broadband
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

Aah...yes...the age old question! Where can you get what we would call "classic pay-as-you-go" broadband? I've had many people express an interest in a PAYG broadband service where you pay for a certain amount of data that doesn't expire after a day, week, or month like all of the plans that you'll currently find on this site (Prepaid Wireless Broadband Plans).

Such a plan would be described as being similar to classic per minute PAYG plans for voice, where you buy a certain number of minutes that can last many months (ex. 90 days to even up to 365 days). The problem is that this type of payment model doesn't currently exist for mobile broadband!

The current prepaid broadband plans really feel more like "no contract mobile broadband" than anything else. And while it certainly has significant benefits over postpaid contract plans, it doesn't provide the flexibility for more casual users.

So why are classic PAYG broadband plans not available at this time? Well, it largely has to do with prepaid wireless providers seeking more profitable customers who spend more money, and on a more regular basis. The type of casual usage that you're seeking is not the current target market that they're seeking at this point in time.

Also, keep in mind that MVNOs don't get wholesale pricing from their host carriers that allows them to afford to offer a reasonable per MB offering that they could market and sell, and actually be profitable. That's not to say the larger carriers (ex. Boost/Virgin/Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, etc.) could not provide such a service. However, they're currently focused on the monthly type customers. Note the hype on the monthly unlimited voice plans prepaid carriers have been offering. These monthly customers are far more profitable than the classic per minute customers, and carriers are seeking to duplicate that success with prepaid mobile broadband.

In my opinion the current no contract prepaid broadband pricing is still too high to have mass appeal. We're likely to see some reasonably price unlimited broadband plans proliferate before we see them going "downstream" (so to speak) by offering per MB usage plans where the data can last a longer period of time (ex. 90 days). However, I do foresee that it's inevitable that these plans will be offered at some point, though I'd be surprised if that were to happen in 2010.

I'm sorry that I don't have better news for you!

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