Prepaid Data Allowance Clarification

I received the following questions from a visitor to the site via a direct email. I feel that the nature of the questions is so important, that rather than simply reply privately directly to them, that I would post the question here. That way other visitors to the site can benefit from this very good question.

Note that I've submitted this anonymously to ensure the privacy of the person who originally submitted the questions.

Here are the questions (scroll down to view my responses):

I'm looking for a Mifi plan for our home and noticed your listing for Virgin Mobile 3G/4G. It shows a fee of $20 - 30 days (1GB). Is the 1GB for file downloads? I never download any files so does this mean I'd only have to pay $20 per month, and could browse the web and send email as much as I want at no extra charge? Would I be able to watch youtube videos and Netflix movies at no extra charge?

I also see the equipment purchase price is either $99.99 or $149.99? What does $149.99 buy me compared to $99.99? I assume there's a minimal contract period; what is it?

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Sep 10, 2012
Data Allowance Details - Part 1
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

The data allowance stated for Virgin's Broadband2Go MiFi (and this works the same for any other prepaid carrier) is the TOTAL data that you can use on your hotspot modem.

That means that it's not just direct file downloading, but includes EVERYTHING that you do with the modem, whether it's checking email (online or using Outlook or other email clients), viewing the weather, researching Wikipedia; absolutely anything that you do on on the device that's connected to your MiFi modem.

So, please make sure to understand that everything you do on any device connected to a MiFi modem that requires data counts towards the monthly allowance. If you have iPods, iPads, or other devices connected to the MiFi modem, anything that those devices do that pulls data will also count towards the allowance.

There's no contract, that's why it's prepaid broadband. So if you pay $20 for 30 days, after the 30 days is up, there's no requirement for you to ever use the modem again, and no penalty to stop using it. After a certain period of time without topping up your account (ex. 60 days), your account will be canceled and you'll need to go through the activation process again though. Sometimes there's an activation fee, though typically there isn't.

If you consume your data allowance within the 30 day period and need more data, most carriers currently require you to purchase an entirely new month of service. Cricket did just launch the ability to simply buy additional buckets of data (that costs less than a monthly topup) to tide you over until your regular month ends. Of course, if you need a lot more data, you can simply buy a full month whenever you need it.

Sep 10, 2012
Data Allowance Details - Part 2
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

In terms of the price difference of the modems, first, please note that the pricing is constantly changing. I try to keep up with the price changes, however, carriers are constantly having promotions and price decreases, so you should check their site at the time you're ready to make a purchase.

That said, the price difference between the two modems (the MiFi 2200 and the Overdrive Pro) is that the former is 3G only, while the latter is 3G/4G, which means that you get much faster speeds, and where 4G isn't available, it will work on 3G. Also, the Overdrive has a display on it to show you the battery level and signal. The 2200 will only show you when the battery is low, and has no signal strength indicator. You need to login to the online portal to view those details. Overall, the Overdrive is a newer and better MiFi modem that is worth the extra money if you have it available.

Lastly, note that you won't be able to play Netflix very well on 3G; the buffering you'll experience will be extremely frustrating. If you're doing any kind of video streaming, you'll definitely want the 4G modem. That said, keep in mind that you won't want to do much streaming with only 1GB of data allowance as that will be consumed fairly quickly.

I hope these details help. Please report back what you decide to do!

For those looking for information about the plans being discussed here, please visit Mobile Hotspot Plans.

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