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Virgin Mobile’s Unlimited Broadband2Go Service Reviewed; Had Cap of 400GB per Month Until We Complained

It’s alive.

After a day or so of stumbling, Sprint-owned Virgin Mobile’s prepaid, unlimited Broadband2Go service went live early this morning, and Stop the Cap! gave it a try and has some tips to share to save you time and money.

More importantly, a “hidden soft usage cap” of 400GB a month, visible early this morning, disappeared by this afternoon after we made inquiries about whether “400GB” actually meant “unlimited.”  More on that below.

Buying Advice

Virgin Mobile keeps it simple with two mobile broadband devices — the Ovation MC760 ($79.99), about the size of a USB flash drive and the MiFi 2200 ($149.99), a portable “hotspot” that connects to Virgin Mobile’s wireless broadband 3G network and then converts the signal into standard Wi-Fi to share with up to five nearby computers.

We tested Broadband2Go using the Ovation MC760.

Virgin Mobile's USB modems are about the size of a typical USB Flash Memory device

Our first recommendation is to hurry on down to Radio Shack if you intend to purchase Broadband2Go service.  Best Buy, the other retailer selling the service, inexplicably sells the Ovation MC760 for $99.99, twenty dollars more than Virgin Mobile charges itself.  We didn’t bother to check Best Buy’s in-store price which might be lower because we put together a far better deal at Radio Shack.

You can manage to grab the MC760 for as low as $59.99 by following these steps:

  1. If you are new to Radio Shack’s website, your first visit to their homepage should bring a “pop-up” offering $10 off your next purchase of $40 or more (if it doesn’t try clearing out your cookies or launching the site from a different web browser).  Simply supply an e-mail address new to Radio Shack and in a few minutes the coupon will arrive in your inbox.  It can be printed and redeemed in-store or used online.  This cuts the price of the MC760 to $69.99.  But wait, there’s more.
  2. Until August 28th, Radio Shack is running a sale offering a $10 instant discount off the MC760.  We first saw this online, but when we visited a local Radio Shack store, we found the same savings in-store.  That brings the price down further to $59.99 because you can combine the coupon with the instant savings, until it expires Saturday night.
  3. Many Radio Shack stores insist that you buy at least $10 in “top-up” funds when buying the MC760.  Although this increases your out-the-door price, it’s money you would spend anyway for the $40 a month service.  An incredibly long receipt will print at the register, including your PIN activation number to redeem your “top-up” funds on Virgin Mobile’s website.

Radio Shack offers up to $20 off the Ovation MC760 - $10 off for responding to this pop-up on their website and another $10 instant discount good until Saturday night.

Radio Shack stores stock both the old box-format packaging for the MC760, and a newer plastic security-sealed “clamshell” package (the one you’ll slice your fingers on when trying to get the thing open.)  There is no real difference between the two other than the packaging.

Getting It Activated

Although Virgin Mobile claims the Ovation MC760 works with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Mac OS X, 10.3 & higher, we found advice for Mac owners using older versions of the OS.  Check out this information for how to bootstrap the MC760 to work with your older Mac computer (your results may vary and don’t expect Virgin Mobile technical support to provide assistance.)  Linux users using Ubuntu found some success installing the MC760 as well from this website and this blog.  Let Google be your friend if you are running an unsupported operating system.

For new Virgin Mobile customers, the activation process is very simple.  You just plug in the device and the included software will automatically load and prompt you for installation.  After the process is complete, you will see a connection manager pop up.  Your first indication of signal strength will also be apparent, but do not be alarmed by the indicator showing only a connection to Sprint’s 1xRTT network.  Users do not access Sprint’s faster 3G EV-DO Revision A network until activation is complete.

Several slowly loading screens will appear during activation asking for your contact information, the zip code of where you intend to use the service the most, and payment details.  At the end, you are assigned a broadband “phone number” which serves as your account number, based on the zip code you provided earlier.

Things get complicated, however, for existing Virgin Mobile customers.  Many of those who anticipated the arrival of the service and pre-loaded their voice accounts with additional “top up” funds will discover there is no way for Virgin Mobile to activate your Broadband2Go service under your existing Virgin Mobile account.  A separate, new account must be established for the broadband service.

However, with the help of a customer service representative, you can transfer funds between your existing voice account and your new Broadband2Go account.  You’ll need to call a special toll-free number which will take you directly to Broadband2Go’s customer service department — 1-877-877-8443.  At the voice prompts, indicate you are a new customer and that you want “tech support.”  Expect at least 10 minutes of hold time and an overseas call center representative to answer.  There is no elevator music on hold with Virgin Mobile either.  You’ll hear plenty of rap and alternative music mixed with greetings from current hit artists.

The tech support representative will handle your Broadband2Go activation over the phone.  Have the device and a pen and paper handy.  Allow 10-15 minutes minimum for the representative to gather information or transfer details from your existing account to the new account.  The tech support rep will then transfer your call to the business office to handle the transfer of funds between accounts.

Our Experience

Phonenews also discovered Virgin Mobile's "unlimited" service had a 400GB usage cap this morning...

After activation, the device reset and we found ourselves suddenly connected to Sprint’s EV-DO network with an average of three bars of signal strength.  Sprint’s nearest tower is about 0.75 miles away from our home in a flat terrain residential area.  Still, we found indoors the signal level could decline to the point the connection fell back to the far slower 1xRTT connection.  Outdoors, the connection manager’s signal level spiked to full strength.

Although Virgin Mobile sells the service as “unlimited,” the website included a usage counter this morning that stated we had just over 400GB of usage remaining.  While extraordinarily generous, that’s still not “unlimited” in our book and we asked Virgin Mobile about it.  Their explanation? It was a “soft usage cap,” and although they didn’t expect anyone to actually hit that level of usage on a relatively slow broadband connection, if they did, customer service would reset it to zero upon request.  We asked why it was included at all on an unlimited service?  We were told it was a software issue — the website was designed for usage-limited broadband measurement.  Considering the performance of 3G wireless networks, it’s not likely many would ever hit it, especially because you would need to be running traffic almost continuously across the connection to reach it.

Nevertheless, we’re pleased to report that as of this afternoon, the 400GB limit is gone, replaced by a usage counter that plainly states “unlimited.”  We applaud Virgin Mobile for rapidly responding to concerns that “unlimited” didn’t actually mean “unlimited.”

...but not for long. As of this afternoon, even that generous usage cap was gone.

One concerned reader dropped a note to Stop the Cap! wondering about something seen in the terms and conditions about “unlimited mobile Internet (but not unlimited downloaded content).”  We couldn’t find those terms and conditions, and if they were included as part of the online activation process, that’s something we missed as we had to activate by phone.  We can only think that may have something to do with the company’s Acceptable Use Policy for data products.  Like other wireless providers, Virgin Mobile does not want customers using their service for “web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, automated machine-to-machine connections or peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing or other systems that drive continuous heavy traffic or data sessions.”  P2P traffic, in particular, is usually a painful experience for both the wireless user and provider.  These kinds of terms and conditions are commonly found in wireless provider agreements.  We’d have a problem with Virgin Mobile if they joined some wireless ISP’s in banning use of online video, but they have not.

So does Virgin Mobile’s marketing of its unlimited Broadband2Go service pass the Stop the Cap! Honest Marketing Test?

The company claims: “Speed varies based on location and coverage with average downlink data speeds between 600 and 1400Kbps. Virgin Mobile does not restrict your speeds based on data usage caps.”

At first glance, we suspected that 600Kbps speed might be a little higher than what real-world users would actually encounter.  Signal strength can steal a lot of speed and if Sprint’s nearest cell tower encounters heavy usage at peak times, speeds can drop dramatically.

We ran several speed tests from different server locations, because results can vary dramatically.  Here is what we found from our location in Rochester, N.Y.:

Speedtest.net recommended a speed test server in the San Francisco area. Our first test showed reasonable 3G speeds.

Interestingly, using a local speed test site showed better downstream results, although upload speeds suffered somewhat.

Finally, a speed test result using a Los Angeles test server that performed well.

Virgin Mobile’s speed and marketing claims do pass the Honest Marketing Test, although we feel they should more openly disclose the ban on P2P traffic.  It’s likely not enforced, if only because most users would grow impatient with the poor results.  Although we have not had a chance to test the robustness of Sprint’s data network and how well it hands off data signals between tower sites or peak usage, the browsing experience was definitely superior to that of the other wireless broadband service we tested — Cricket Wireless.  The speeds were better, too.

There is no way to tell whether Virgin Mobile’s owner Sprint will ultimately be able to sustain the service should a flood of new customers saturate their 3G network.  It’s a shame that although Virgin Mobile uses Sprint’s network, they do not currently allow access to Sprint’s much-faster 4G network.

Our Recommendation

For those lucky enough to have good wireless signal coverage from Sprint and are currently stuck with Hughes or Wildblue satellite fraudband service — your day has come.  Stop the Cap! can heartily recommend Virgin Mobile’s unlimited service as a great alternative to either provider.  We can also recommend this service to those stuck on .768-1.5Mbps DSL, especially if the phone company is charging you more than $40 a month for tortoise-slow DSL service.  For those on the go, this is also a great choice, assuming where you go is within Sprint’s coverage area.  Broadband2Go can even provide an effective backup if your primary Internet provider goes down.  But we do not recommend it as a replacement for higher speed DSL, cable, or fiber delivered broadband.

Because Sprint’s coverage is more spotty than AT&T or Verizon, it is important to consider where you will use the service.  Those on the edge of coverage areas may experience considerably poorer service, or none at all, when indoors.  Sprint locates their towers inside major metropolitan areas and along major highways that connect those communities.  If you are uncertain whether Broadband2Go will work where you want to use it, you can consider buying the MC760 with $10 worth of usage, which will provide 100MB of usage within 10 days.  If it doesn’t work well for you, return the modem and be out only $10 worth of usage.

Those who like the service can either top-up your account automatically to cover the $40 monthly fee with no interruption in service, or just pay for the service when you need it.  There is no activation/re-activation fee.

Overall, our first impressions are positive, although we wished existing Virgin Mobile customers could link the service to their existing accounts.  Over the next few days, we’ll take the service on the road and see how it fares.

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Currently there are 51 comments on this Article:

  1. User says:

    Virgin Mobile’s T&C are very clear for Broadband2Go Unlimited. Read it for yourself:

    http://www.virginmobileusa.com/legal/terms-of-service-virgin-mobile#bb2g

    Broadband2Go Plans

    You may purchase a Broadband2Go data plan necessary to access the Internet from your laptop personal computer in the following data allocations (“Broadband2Go Plans”):

    $10.00 for 100 megabytes (“MB”)
    $40.00 per month for unlimited mobile Internet (but not unlimited downloaded content)

    The web-based activation also clearly states:

    Data usage per activity is based on an average. Bandwidth varies by website, video, email and other internet applications.

    I’d encourage those with the wherewithall to test traditionally bandwidth intense applications to see if Virgin Mobile is violating Network Neutrality and degrading certain types of content.

    • Thanks for finding this and reporting back. I never was prompted to review this information when I activated by phone.

      I am suspecting the “unlimited downloaded content” relates back to the bans on P2P traffic. I will explore this further with Virgin Mobile, however.

      I also found this fascinating, reading a bit further down:

      “Virgin Mobile phone and Broadband2Go accounts are maintained separately, and you may not transfer the balance between your Virgin Mobile phone account and your Broadband2Go account.”

      While that is in the terms, I accomplished doing exactly this earlier today with no questions asked. It sounds like anyone else in the same boat should hurry and get the transfer done before the overseas call centers get a memo.

      The big bugaboo for Net Neutrality is purposefully throttling or blocking content and so far I have not seen them disclose any network management practices except for the usual ban on P2P, which I think I’ve seen in every wireless broadband Acceptable Use Policy.

      BUT I also agree the way they say “bandwidth varies by website…” is not well worded and could represent weasel words for network management. I suspect they were talking about performance of their network generally, but I’ll also bring this up with them and see what they say.

      Thanks again.

  2. Stanley C says:

    I guess the big question is will Virgin Mobile keep this plan up and running over the long term?

  3. Ian L says:

    For what it’s worth, Virgin Mobile’s plan is THE best one out there right now. T-Mobile is faster, but you get throttled after about 10GB and their coverage isn’t anywhere near Sprint’s.

    One thing to note: some Sprint towers may only be fed by a T1 or two; Sprint is no longer a telephone company so fiber fed towers aren’t the most common thing out there. As such, speeds will degrade as more people get online.

    On the other hand, hopefully this new deal will provide Sprint enough of a revenue infusion to add bandwidth to cell sites that need it.

    One thing I’m curious about: does Virgin Mobile data travel over some sort of different backbone versus Sprint contract service (e.g. what I get on my cell phone)? If someone could run a traceroute to vps.ian.im (in SoftLayer-Dallas for what it’s worth) that would clear things up a bit.

    One more thing: Virgin Mobile 3G coverage is, for almost all intents and purposes, identical to Sprint 3G coverage. There are a few ex-Alltel areas where Sprint has EvDO roaming, but those are few and far between. For everywhere else, Virgin Mobile’s new service just plain rocks…and this is from someone who has tested Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile and CricKet 3G networks.

    • Sprint User says:

      Looking at the speed test images, the IP is associated with “Virgin Mobile USA, LLC” so it’s a good chance that when the data reaches the tower it is routed through a separate system from Sprint’s servers. I currently have Sprint mobile broadband and my IP is associated with “Sprint PCS.”

      This is similar to DataJack when they used T-Mobile as a carrier. Their service was routed through “Rackspace Hosting.” The speeds and latencies were worse when routed through Rackspace vs T-Mobile’s own servers.

      • Ian L says:

        Not necessarily true; an IP range can be assigned by an overarching network to some business without having a different network. T-Mobile white-label was going through a different gateway than T-Mobile proper, hence the different routing and higher latency.

  4. Tee W says:

    Any idea how to do a hard reset of the Ovation MC760? I want to upgrade to the Mifi 2200, but I want to sell the Ovation. My apology for posting this here.

  5. Kit H. says:

    Well, I was testing it for a day and was surprise to get 2,000kbps download and 700kbps upload. Yes, I was getting 2Mb/s download.

    However, on the 2nd day of test, I’m getting 200kbps download and 200kbps upload.

    It looks like once I hit 2GB usage, I get throttle to 200kbps.

    This sucks big time.

  6. Kit H. says:

    Looks like they remove my cap after throttle me for 1 day.

    I’m actually getting 2.37 Mb/s download and .57 Mb/s upload.

    Yup, 2.37Mb/s download on a virgin mobile mifi.

    Here’s the link to my speedtest if this site allow links.

    http://www.speedtest.net/result/940272405.png

  7. Kit H. says:

    Looks like the remove the cap after throttling me for 1 day.

    I’m getting 2.37 Mb/s download and .57 Mb/s upload.

    Yes, 2.37Mb/s download through virgin mobile mifi.

  8. tresho says:

    The previous commenters apparently were able to activate their Virgin Mobile service. I wasn’t. I bought a MC760 at my local Walmart on Friday afternoon. When I installed it on my laptop, all its relevant software was installed flawlessly. I got the connection manager window saying the device was not activated. When I clicked to activate, my browser would open and then fail to connect to the Virgin Mobile site. After about 30 minutes of repeating this process and rebooting in various combinations, I finally got to the VM website. I went through the usual name/address/UserID/PIN to establish an account with them. Then it asked for my credit card info. Fortunately I have the option to establish a temporary limited credit card number with my Bank of America credit card, called ShopSafe. I use it whenever I deal with a company I’m not familiar with. Anyone getting a temp number created by ShopSafe can only charge so much for so long, while the charges appear on my usual card #.
    So I fed VM my temp credit card number and hit ‘activate’ after which the next window refused to open, basically negating everything I did up to that point.

    I tried calling the Virgin Mobile customer Service number, went through a bunch of menus, got hung up on, repeated this several times & finally gave up on the VM customer service number altogether.
    I repeated the whole activation process, apparently everything went through OK, until I finally get to the last window, which said:
    “Your activation is in progress
    Thanks for starting the activation process. You’ve done your part. Now the
    ball’s in our court.
    Because activations are taking longer than expected right now, it’s going to
    take us 1 or 2 days to get you set up on our network.
    By then, we should be able to give you your Virgin Mobile number and some
    final instructions on how to get your phone working. If not, feel free to
    check back for an update on how much longer it will take. Just return to
    virginmobileusa.com and click on May we help you.
    You’re going to need your phone’s serial number (ESN) in order to check the
    status of your activation, so please write that number down and keep it
    handy.
    Sorry for the delay, but we’re pretty sure that you’ll find us worth waiting
    for. Thanks for your patience, and talk to you soon…
    Where would you like to go now?” – a silly question, since I couldn’t go anywhere useful.
    Aftering owning my VM USB device for 24 hours, it had still not been activated. However I have noticed that $1 has been charged to my temp credit card number – 6 times – by VM, even though I hadn’t actually offered to buy anything from them so far. Fortunately these were just ‘pending’ charges, not final ones.
    After reading all over the internet about VM’s slow speeds, no speeds, and failures of its own equipment to connect to the VM network, I decided this system is a loser.
    So I cancelled the temp credit card number. The bank tells me no charges have been made, and the company can no longer charge anything.
    Then I took my MC760 USB stick back to Walmart & got the purchase price refunded to my credit card.

    • That activation message telling you to wait a few days is ridiculous, but it is probably there because Virgin Mobile suffered a huge national outage late Friday and it also took out their customer service center computers. My suspicion is they are still having issues over the weekend. They would normally be able to assign you a “broadband phone number” instantly.

      The slow speeds issue is being mitigated, but you might want to wait another week or so and see how things pan out and then perhaps consider trying again.

      Just watch your credit card statement for any extra charges that turn up and dispute them if they do.

      • tresho says:

        “They would normally be able to assign you a “broadband phone number” instantly.”
        That’s what I was expecting. What got to me was their insertion of a delay for an unknown period of time after all my efforts and after they charged my credit card. Certainly Virgin Mobile is capable of simply deferring all attempts to activate from the get-go until they had solved their network problems. The fact that they didn’t try, and treated a new customer with such disdain,, combined with the fact there is no way to give them feedback on this or to cancel an attempted activation, indicated that my best choice is to decline to do any further business with them.
        I will be following my credit card activity closely until this is resolved. Note it has been 48 hours since I received Virgin Mobile”s message that there would be a 1-2 day delay in activating my device, and still no word from VM. This is a moot point now, since the USB stick has been back in Walmart’s hands for 24 hours, but I am idly curious about how long it will take VM to meet their ‘promise.’

  9. agent00kevin says:

    My experience:

    I bought a Mifi 2200 at WalMart this afternoon + the 40$ card needed for unlimited service. Got everything home, booted up the laptop and fired up the Mifi (not in that order)

    Ok, so it does connect through a few slow loading pages right away. It says im connected to the internet in my network and sharing center…but Im not really. What its connected to is the Mifi and it fools your PC into thinking its online. I go though the activation process, but when it comes time to connect to the REAL website, it fails. Why? Because you arent actually online. I tried this for about 15-30 minutes before I pirated a neighbor’s router for a few. I logged on to their site through the router, and got the numbers I needed.

    Now, I disconnect from the neighbor’s router and back to the Mifi. Fail again. It doesnt take me anywhere but my account screen, which the book (and the instructions online) say means Ive successfully activated my Mifi and am now ready to ‘surf the web’.

    4-5 tries later, (repeating the ENTIRE activation, including the pirating of routers) it suddenly decided to give me Yahoo, and everything else I wanted. YAY! Now im online. I did nothing different than an other time (after all you just follow the prompts) but it took quite a while to get things up and running. (mind you I run game servers when Im wired, Im no online idiot)

    So I test the speeds and they seem acceptable. 512k average, sometimes almost a meg and I live in the middle of cornfields. The Mifi is also sitting rather low in the house and Im sure that makes a diff. As for online gaming, I get around 200 ping so thats going to be a no – go.

    Aside from the painful activation experience. Im happy. Im updating Steam, (and several games at once) on one PC and typing this on another. Also, those speeds I listed were WHILE downloading those updates so I expect them to be even better after I shut the other PC down.

    All in all, I say go for it if you dont game online and have some patience while activating. (that could be reated to their text messaging problem right now; some power outage has screwed it up since friday) then this i a well proced service. So far it is a mild substitue for wired internet, without a contract. (I dont want one going into winter, I work outdoors. IF I cant afford it I dont have to and I wont have 3 months of charges to catch up before I get reconnected)

    8/10 (-2 for the annoying activation, and the promise that you can do it without another web connection)

    • When you first activate, you are stuck on their much slower 1xRTT connection, which can be painfully slow.

      I didn’t experience any of these issues activating the 760, but you have the Mi-Fi and I guess the setup is more elaborate with that. I would have considered the Mi-Fi, if only to turn the service into a household backup in case Road Runner failed, but $150 on an unknown service was too steep for me.

      • Otto Adamec says:

        I bought the VirginMobile MIFI 2200 on Saturday, Sep. 4th.
        Had some slow speed success that day. It went out on Sunday.
        I can connect but I cannot access websites.
        It is stll out as of now 5:22pm Eastern time on Tuesday,
        Sept. 7th in New York City.
        A trip to the Geek squad at Bestbuy where I bought it,
        revealed that they knew nothing about the outage.
        A bunch of calls to VirginMobile and I finally got some
        one to tell me that the network was down.
        …it is still down.

      • Otto Adamec says:

        Notify me of any comments.

  10. minh says:

    how is the speed for escondido 92027 area? any user out there? Thanks.

  11. tammy says:

    hi its martina from virgin mobile yeah it is so hard to connect to the service at first but then its really hard if the cust is using mifi

  12. Jason says:

    Well my first issue is that the 760 has a horrible antenna in it (though i will remedy this by purchasing a blade antenna). This automatically put me on the 1xRTT connection even after activation. I took my laptop outside to test the speed and suddenly I was blazing. The speed isn’t a major issue for me though as it is an improvement over nothing. My major issue was with the tech support team at VM. Over the course of three calls during the installation of my modem I was given three different answers (none of which helped by the way). One gentleman even went so far as to tell me that I should take my computer to a technician as the issue was obviously my computer. The problem turned out to be a simple one (only the broadband2go program makes it very hard to troubleshoot) that I figured out on my own in 20 minutes. If only I had decided to tough it out on my own I could have saved my self hours on the phone with a tech support team who are obviously incompetent.

    The plus side is that the price and download points are great, and if you live in an area where you get a decent connection speed I say go for it. Just don’t expect much help from the tech support team.

  13. [...] using Virgin Wireless’ unlimited mobile broadband service he read about on Stop the Cap! for [...]

  14. jrccomputer says:

    Just As A Warning Virgin Mobiles 3G Prepaid Broadband Is Not Really 3G All The Time. After 2GBs Of Download You Are Put On The Much Slower 1XRTT Network. I Tried It I 12 Cities (All In Sprint Coverage. So Its Not Really 3G All The Time.

    • Otto Adamec says:

      I do find a slowdown in the service. It is blazing fast 2kb in the morning but can get down to an unusable .3 by mid afternoon. I can use other networks at times.
      Would it be adviseable to ration the time (and therefore the speed)on the MIFI?

      2nd: Can I buy more speed for a temporary period of time…say hours or a day.?

  15. menolike says:

    Beware of Virgin Mobile’s plans. You spend big bucks on a modem, then they change the available plans with PR spin that it’s an improvement. (The improvement is to Virgin Mobile’s bottom line.) We bought the modem five months ago for when we travel because they had a $10 plan good for 10 days and a $20 plan good for 30 days (both had large but limited bandwidth, which was fine because most of the time we find hotspots). Three months later they eliminated the $20 plan and replaced it with a new 30-day plan that costs $40, so, basically, our cost of using the modem has increased about 50% in just four months. (Three $10 plans for 30 days instead of one $20 plan.) Wouldn’t be surprised if the 10-day plan disappears next, and the $40 plan becomes a $60 plan, doubling or tripling our cost. They know we already invested in the modem, so we’re stuck. Can you say “bait and switch”?

    Also, one of the first times we tried to use the service, they had a national outage for a day or two and it took three hour-long calls to customer service to get a credit. The first call we made was during the outage…and their customer service was closed for the night!!! Their broadband network is down and when their usual closing time of 10 pm arrives, they just turn off the phones without even a voice message saying there was an outage. Great customer service! We didn’t know there was an outage…we just assumed it was a problem with our modem. So we wasted another hour trying to log in. We didn’t learn of the outage until we called customer service (and waited 90 minutes in the queue) the next morning.

  16. Diabolique says:

    @menolike: I want to confirm your experience. The customer support isn’t just bad, it is kafkaesque. My account was suspended and my usb modem “blocked” because of a clerical error that Virgin Mobile made. The error should have been easy to correct but it has resulted in a cascade of more errors which customer service is unable to understand and unable solve (after 10 phone calls over two weeks.) Virgin appears to poorly train operators, give them no authority, no resources, no support. It seems cynical and craven and a gross disservice to its employees and customers. More to the point, how could that possibly be a profitable business model?

  17. Kloid says:

    I just want to add my two cents……… I read about this device from VM after ordering a five spot from Verizon, needing more bandwidth than 5GB, I thought I was doing good getting 10GB for $80 bucks. After reading reviews of the WiFi 2200 from Virgin Mobile I was totally confused by glowing reports of the service, and just the opposite from others, including downloads that would knock you off the network after more than 2MB, horrible customer service, and an impossible activation process. My experience was…. stupendous, simple activation process, easy connection to all my devices, decent speeds at one location, and great speeds at another. Streaming audio and video from my SlingBox worked flawlessly and no problems downloading files regardless of size. I don’t use P2P transfers, so maybe that was the other persons problem. I did have a couple problems with the device, I thought the new password I entered was for the connection to the MiFi, it is actually just your Virgin Mobile account password, the device password is always the number printed on the bottom of the MiFi. The other problem was that these things are really scarce at the moment, and I had to make a long drive to a WalMart in another city to get the last one available in the southern region of my state, at 6:30 in the morning :) I am really glad I did because I have been waiting for unlimited mobile service for a long time. Now I just have to refuse the Verizon device in order to save a bunch of money each month. If your on the fence and trying to make a decision, get one from WalMart and try it out, if it does not meet your expectations, just return it within 30 days. As for me, I am one happy camper…..with internet access in my tent :)

  18. kagan says:

    ı loaded virgin mobile. but ı have some problem for the activation.
    system asked zip code. How can ı find the zip code please answer immediality
    thanks for helping

    • wee says:

      The Zip code was an issue.Even though they are sold here VM’s system doesn’t recognise our zip.After reading the fine print.(You can access VM anywhere you have a signal from SPRINT) I simply entered a zip code for a large city in my state.
      The sign up page complained but allowed us to sign up with billing and location zips that weren’t the same.

      • Otto Adamec says:

        I used the MIFI at a “country place” on a lake. The range map indicates that the place is just a bit out of the range of the signal. And I could not get service there. Since my place is closed until Spring, I
        am hoping that service will be expanded a little by then. If not, I will have to find another provider.

        Right now, the mifi saves me money by avoiding hotel internet fees. And DSL fees.

        i

  19. Joel says:

    Go to http://www.yahoo.com and type in this search: US Zip Codes
    Click on one of the returns and type in your area to find the zip code you have.

  20. JRTJRT says:

    I bought the stick modem on Friday. Did not get the activation screens. Called help desk. They entered my info and provided account number. Cannot access, getting message “cannot connect with remote computer”. Disabled my firewall and anti-virus. Removed MalWarebytes. Same result. Tried all 4 usb ports. Same result. Help desk is sending out a replacement device. Wants me to send them the original device in postage paid envelope (which I already received, but have not gotten the replacement device yet). Don’t think sending the helpdesk the original device is good idea if I need to get refund from Radio Shack. I have Vista, with SP2.

    • Keep in mind Virgin has announced they are implementing a 5GB usage limit effective 2/15. (http://stopthecap.com/2011/01/11/virgin-mobile-gives-up-on-unlimited-wireless-broadband-will-adopt-5gb-cap-feb-15/) I’d return or exchange the item with RadioShack directly. Why wait around?

      My guess is something is blocking the device or your network settings are messed up. Vista’s network and sharing settings are appalling to deal with. It was the primary reason I despised Vista and stuck it out with Windows XP until Win 7 came out.

      Have you run another dongle/wireless device on your machine before? I ran into some minor trouble testing Virgin Mobile out because I had also used Cricket’s wireless broadband dongle on the same computer. The two hated each other under a Vista laptop I tried it with.

      • JRTJRT says:

        Yea, I agree about returning the device to Radio Shack. I was hoping the replacement device would get here first so I could determine if it’s the device or my computer settings. But, the replacement has not arrived as promised (1 to 3 business days). The stick I purchased from Radio Shack was the last one they had, so that’s why I was waiting. Disappointed since I’m going on a month long trip, and I hate being without a computer. I could use public wi fi, but I can’t use online bill paying with the public wifi. I’m going to upgrade to Win 7 when I return and maybe try buying another stick at that time.

        • tresho says:

          Why can’t you use online billing with public WiFi? I understand there are security issues this way, but there are many services which provide excellent security through public WiFi systems, using VPN’s. One such service is Witopia. Their lowest fee is $39.95 for a year’s worth of service, up to as much as $79.95 for more features. No setup fee. Money back in the first 30 days if not satisfied. This is way cheaper than a year’s worth of Virgin Mobile.

  21. Marcus says:

    Virgin Mobile’s “Unlimited” Broadband2Go is about to become limited. I went to make a payment today and was notified of two changes. First, Virgin mobile will now slow things down when you hit 5GB. Second, the Broadband2Go plan will be discontinued as of Feb 15, 2011. Current users will be grandfathered in and can continue under the $40/5GB plan so long as a) they’re signed onto that plan as of Feb 14, and b) they don’t ever miss a payment. If you miss a payment you lose BB2GO and must then choose between their other plans which currently are looking to be around $20 per gigabyte.

    Just a heads up, to guarantee no missed payments I set things up a few days ago to pay via credit card. My payment was due today but when I signed on I was taken to my account page where I was informed my account had expired and was prompted to authorize a payment. Reading around, it appears that there is also a “automatic topoffs” button somewhere that you must also enable before payments are automatic.

    Details of the plan changes are here:

    http://www.virginmobileusa.com/legal/terms-of-service-virgin-mobile#bb2g_plans_expiring

    • It was my understanding the BB2Go plan was going to continue to exist, but not with unlimited usage. The legalese is impenetrable. We are already covering this story generally — for the latest Virgin Mobile stories select Virgin Mobile from the Provider drop down box at the top of the page.

  22. Kloid says:

    Yep, after a few happy days of service I started getting throttled when I tried to watch video. The service is pretty lame unless all your doing is surfing to read blogs or using email. Now with a 5GB limit if your grandfathered it still is useful for some people, but the new prices are outrageous. I am going to keep it until 4G is in the area and then pony up for better service. I love how all these companies are thinking up these great things to do with mobile phones, but noone will let you have the bandwidth to even use those services. When will these idiots open the doors to let us experience the full benefits of mobile devices.

  23. R. Keyes says:

    I am really glad I returned the Mifi and opted for the cheaper USB device and used the (buggy, but free) connectify virtual AP software for windows 7. I’ve got a Mac that’s trying to update with 1.9GB of data on the other desk. I think of how quickly this will drai the 5gb budget and how the service is already slow. I wish they’d bring back the proposed 400gb cap instead of 5gb+slow. that would be ten centers per GB I could live with that.

    The network is congested during the day and evening, but wide open at night. How about telling users to have their software updates schedules for random timeslots between1 and 6 am. Put downloads in that slot to not count against the transfer limit. Perhaps some system could be worked out for triggered downloads when capacity is available, so I can grab TV shows overnight or something.

    Broadband2go is useless for streaming video. I took online courses last semester and the videos were practically unviewable except for in the middle of the night, when they got acceptable (only a glitch ever three minutes or so).

    Virgin/Spring needs to hire somewhat like me, a network engineer to find a way to fairly distribute resources and enhance network performance.

  24. David says:

    Well well, I dont know about the rest of you guys but I just reactivated my Novatel card and I am so UPSET with the speed. First lt me tell you that I bought this card in Walmart in Orlando and activated the card the same day. I live in Ft Lauderdale so I did travel by car thru the Turnpike watching a movie from Netflix and by that time I was really impress that the connection only dropped twice. So the 30 days went by and I got another connection at home so I decided to let it go.

    today I did the reactivation and the best speeds I can get are 110Kbps down and 72Kbps upstream!! YES Kbps! This is worse than Dial Up, Their home page takes 3:34seconds to load, it is IMPOSSIBLE to browse using this pieace of crap. I am so disappointed that this will be my last month, after this 30 days I am going to make a BIG BBQ with this little piece of s***. VIRGIN MOBILE YOU JUST LOST A CUSTOMER. I also changed from Metro PCS (which I though was bad) to your phone service and that’s another bad taste surprise. Honestly I though I will never say this but MetroPCS Service and coverage get me a better service than your company. I have seen how I get dropped calls all the time, and when I look and the signal bar they suddenly disappears (go down) and then in 10 or 15 seconds they come back in front of my eyes.

    DAMMIT GUYS!!! If you cant offer a good service DON’T SELL S*** TO THE PEOPLE THAT TRUSTED YOU!!!!!!!!

    DON’T BUY ANYTHING FROM VIRGIN MOBILE. THIS COMPANY IS REALLY GIVING BAD SERVICE

  25. Crystal DC says:

    I purchased the Virgin Mobile broadband unlimited service a week ago for use with online schooling for my laptop and I have been very unsatisfied. I live in a medium-sized city and my area is not bombarded with trees, yet i have had constant slow speeds or unable to connect to the Internet at all. It seems to be at night when i can hardly accomplish anything on the Internet at all. I’ve called customer service twice and each time the “connection” was switched….sure that’s not the right terminology, but can’t think of it right now…..however, the speed will increase for a minute or so while I’m talking to them and will dramatically decrease immediately after. I was not even able to have two windows opened at once. Maybe its just me, but my experience with this broadband service has been a disaster. I do have Virgin Mobile as a cell phone provider and that service is great.

  26. Bruce Atterberry says:

    I purchased the Mifi from Walmart in December so I got grandfathered in. Been using it ever since and was at first pleased with the speeds of the Sprint Network in Decatur, Il. However, I am very displeased now. I have noticed that I am constantly being disconnected from the network and my speeds are miserably slow (try like a 14.4k modem). Sometimes it takes almost two minutes to completely load Facebook, if it loads at all. I have paid my bills on time and never exceed the 5GB cap that gets you throttled. I guess Virgin Mobile/Sprint are either having network congestion issues or some other technical difficulties that are causing my bad web experience. Fourty dollars a month is a good deal for reliable and decent internet speeds but is not a DEAL for what i am getting. If service does not improve, i am opting out.

  27. A. T says:

    Network has been down since last night. Helloooo. This is not what I pay for!!!

  28. Steve says:

    Bull****. When I first bought this it was $40.00 unlimited with crap connection, and don’t even try to hook up another comp (even though they boast you can hook up to 5) because then its crap. Now its 5GB oh wait no 2,5GB for now $50.00, and still bull**** connectivity, and where I’m at is smack dab in the middle of what should be excellent connection. Its all lies, and the tech support is a joke unless you know how to speak Hindu, and then you and Rakish might be able to fix the issue. Just as soon as I can I am switching to the local wireless provider

  29. Steve says:

    LOL interesting how posts not in favor of virgin mobile are not posted

  30. Steve says:

    In a nutshell Virgin Mobile Mifi is a scam. When first signed up it was $40 a month unlimited (connectivity a joke) , and Im in the middle of waht should be excellent coverage, and on top of that its now $40 for 5GB oh wait no now its $50 for 2.5GB, and still the same BS connectivity. DO NOT GET THIS PRODUCT. Check out your local wireless carrier thats what IM about to do. Virgin Mobile is BS.

  31. Kloid says:

    I had Virgin Mobile and it was great for about a week. Now I just quit the service, the connection is so bad your lucky to get 28k speed. I consider this a scam, I will never purchase another product or service from any virgin branded company again. Branson can crash into the moon for all I care, big loser.

  32. Hoss says:

    I had virgin mobile’s Broadband2go and the first month went great, no issues.
    The problems started after i payed for the second month of service when it was due.
    So i payed the $50 for the “unlimited” plan for the second month and Virgin mobile has me throttled back to 156.8kbps witch isint even fast enough to get online or load webpages for the most part and thats after i payed for the second month when it was due.
    Ok, so a brief summary,

    1- I payed $50 for the second month of service (i never hit my 5gig limit in the first month).

    2-As soon as i made the second month payment my service was throttled back to 156.8kbps from the constant 3.1MB/s that i usually get and am supposed to be getting since i made the payment.

    3-Did i mention that this happened after i payed for the second month?

    4-The meter says that i have EVDO-A connection but at 156.8kbps isint that a worthless and very slow 1xRTT connection not a faster EVDO-A? (I know it is by the way but, I guess vm is trying to fool me by claiming that its EVDO-A and not what it really is)

    5-I have found it virtually impossible to upgrade the firmware on my broadband2go usb card, I have tried downloading them from the Novatel website since VM refuses to update anything pretty much but, the modem will not accept any firmware updates, I can update the device drivers but that doesn’t do much at all.

    On a side note: I did manage to up my speed some by deleting a cirtian file in the registry and direct connecting without using the MobiLink connection/meter and it seemed to work some and it managed to bring my speed up to around 900kbps and sometimes a little above that.
    I have ditched Virgin Mobile for a much better mobile broadband provider Melinicom.

  33. joe says:

    Virgin Mobile Broadband2go SUCKS!!!!! and their customer service is even worse!!!!!!! I am SO sorry I ever got involved with this company and will never purchase anything from them ever again!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  34. denise wight says:

    I am having so many problems with this company about replacing my megabites That THEY took away from my broadband2go. I have tried every avenue to get my money replace on my account. Need help if any one is listening. Need my internet service back up and running Now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!







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