My oh MiFi, Virgin Mobile US mobile broadband for travellers

6 September 2010

Bitterwallet - Virgin Mobile US MiFiIf you travel back and forth to the US for work, pleasure or long distance yankee doodle, this could be the answer to all your roaming data problems. It's a MiFi hotspot from Virgin Mobile US, and is available in stores and concessions across the country. Similar to the 3 MiFi hotspot in the UK, you can top up the credit and connect up to five WiFi-enabled devices to the device.

There are a couple of potential issues with it. One is coverage; the US is massive, obviously, so check coverage first - Virgin Mobile US is owned by Sprint, who have reasonable data coverage in most major conurbations.

Secondly, the data you buy has an expiry date; $10 (£6.70) buys you 100 MB which must be used with 10 days of purchase; $40 (£27) buys you unlimited data which must be used within one month. That's not too unreasonable, but it would far more useful if the low tariff could be carried over.

The real issue is the price of the MiFi unit; it's $149, so roughly £100 - twice the price of 3's unit. Gah. That's extortionate for a one-off trip, but then if you're staying in hotels for a month, it may still work out cheaper than the hotel WiFi charges.

Of course, if you don't mind hanging around Starbucks all day long like a dickish hipster, then your luck's in - the corporate coffee chain recently announced that in the US it no longer requires customers to log-in with a Starbucks card and offers unlimited WiFi usage, rather than limit usage to two hours.

TOPICS:   Travel   Broadband

19 comments

  • Marzipan
    ...so, a blog post about a US product, only available in the US, only for use in the US, with no relevance to UK people other than business travellers who (let's be frank) this blog isn't aimed at? Bravo! C'mon guys. You keep letting yourselves down. You post brilliant, helpful articles then absolutely irrelevant dross like this. I don't mind the chicken-in-a-can stuff - nothing wrong with a bit of humour - but this article completely violates Grice's maxim of relevance.
  • Paul S.
    Plenty of people travel back and forth to the US two or three times a year, and plenty of them aren't on business. It's an article about a piece of kit that might save on data charges while abroad, and the pros and cons of it - that's exactly what we're about. It'll be useful to some readers, not to others. If you're one of them who isn't interested, move along and read something else.
  • Paddy
    Marizpan, Did you read the first sentence at all? "If you travel back and forth to the US for work, pleasure or long distance yankee doodle, this could be the answer to all your roaming data problems." It's quite handy to know about this. Alternatively, use your smartphone/laptop in Hooters to letch whilst having some wings-wifi is free in there as well*. *Wifes/Fiancees may disapprove.....
  • JP
    Get a HTC DESIRE YOU BELL ENDS
  • Dane
    Slow news day eh?
  • Maya B.
    My HTC Desire works anywhere, even on a recent business trip to Uranus. It felt great that it would still work, all the way up there.
  • The B.
    Doesn't Froyo 2.2 have wireless tethering as standard? So you could just buy a PAYG sim for the country you're in and use Android to the same effect then?
  • M4RKM
    Realbob/JP with the desire, and a local sim in USA, you'll still end up paying a fortune. AT&T charge $20 for 100mb of data on a payg sim, so this deal with virgin is not bad at all. And virgin USA doesn't work on a sim card....
  • The B.
    $20 (£13) for 100mb of data on a payg sim doesn't actually sound that bad (compared to roaming certainly), if you just want maps, email, etc, 100mb should last a while.
  • dunfyboy
    Virgin can just fuck off.
  • M4RKM
    Real Bob - it's not bad at all, but, it's when you run out of that 100mb they sting you for 1¢ per KB.. at least with the virgin offering it is designed as data only, and will just cut you off, rather than use my damn calling credit.. M
  • Gene
    It sounds like a good deal. I'd use it when I travel to the US. I tried ordering at MifiClub but it didin't work..
  • john d.
    I have been trying to get my phone set up for u. s. calls from 9th sept with no luck. My number is 07817 693250 could you help?
  • Ten B.
    [...] My oh MiFi, Virgin Mobile US mobile broadband for travellers [...]
  • craig
    hi, i bought a mi fi from best buy, $140 with discount, pllus you top up, the unit, its like a bank the top up and then you take out either $10 or $40 for a full month ,unlimited, $10 is for 1o days, and is limited., thought it was great, well worth the money, if you are regular traveller to USA, and I,m not sure if it works in canada. thx virgin. craig
  • Ike
    I really appreciate this article. I spent hours researching this and am amazed at how little information there is from third parties. By the way, you can buy the device from Walmart for $107 and the top up of the prepaid data for half other places prices and in better data quantities. Plus you can buy the top up from Walmart's website and get a code to activate the top up. I am flying straight to JFK and a taxi to the nearest Walmart then on to my hotel in Manhattan. What I will save on the device will more than pay for extra cab fare to get to Walmart.
  • Diane
    Look, I travel to the US a couple of times a year and the hotel I like does Wi fi at $10 a day, so this was a no brainer. I was knocked out by the speed, better than at home. Just because it isn't right for you personally doesn't mean you should knock it for others.
  • Jemma
    How can I top up using PayPal?
  • Petrus W.
    I just bought the device (new ) from Amazon for $ 65.00 with free delivery (in USA) So price is clearly dropping fast. Before I bought the mifi I used the Virgin Mobile dongle -for 2 years which works well - at reasonable speeds. It has come in very handy when no wifi spots are available .

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