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Millenicom Kills, Then Revives Unlimited Wireless Plan Rural America Loves

Phillip Dampier October 28, 2013 Competition, Consumer News, Data Caps, Millenicom, Rural Broadband, Video, Wireless Broadband 4 Comments

millenicomAn unlimited wireless broadband plan popular with rural Americans and traveling RV owners has been revived after customers were informed unlimited access was going to be unavailable after Oct. 31.

Millenicom resells wireless broadband service on the Sprint and Verizon wireless networks. Millenicom’s $79.99 Unlimited Plan had no contract requirement and customers were allowed to bring their own wireless device.

Millenicom bucked the trend by continuing to find ways to offer unlimited access plans even as wireless companies began imposing usage caps. Sprint’s decision to cut service to a third-party reseller forced Millenicom to send an e-mail notice on Oct. 18 to unlimited use customers:

Sprint has discontinued service to our gateway provider, unfortunately that means we can no longer provide the Unlimited or BYOD Plan to you.

We anticipate your plan to be discontinued by Sprint by the end of this month. We can offer a couple of options for you available through October 31, 2013.

  1. Continue your service through the BMI.net Unlimited/BYOD Plan. They have agreed to honor your service through the end of this month at no charge with an ongoing monthly service fee of $79.99;
  2. Switch your service to the Millenicom 20GB Hotspot Plan. We will provide a Novatel MiFi 4620LE with activation and shipping free of charge.

Given this is out of our control, we recommend that you act on this at your earliest convenience.

We deeply regret this circumstance.

Millenicom

The decision would have had an immediate impact on rural customers who cannot get cable broadband or DSL. Many Millenicom customers receive wireless broadband over 3G, 4G, and/or LTE networks, depending on reception quality, the carrier, and what services are available on the nearest cell tower.

Just a few days later, the company reversed course, at least for current customers:

The upstream carrier is reconsidering their decision with our gateway. At this time it appears the accounts will be allowed to continue.

We apologize for any confusion or frustration and thank you for your patience; we will immediately provide updates as information is provided.

At the moment, Millenicom’s website still advertises three plans, although the Unlimited Plan details are now missing and might no longer be an option for new customers:

plans

(Verizon Wireless Network) Hotspot Plan – No contract – Nationwide coverage (Check coverage)

  • 3G/4G Novatel MiFi Hotspot
  • 20 gigabytes of data
  • Connect up to 10 WiFi-enabled devices

The 3G/4G Hotspot Plan is a no-contract service that allows for 20 gigabytes of data transfer for $69.99/month. The service automatically allows for up to 10 wireless devices to connect simultaneously and is backwards compatible to 3G in the event the device is outside the coverage area.  The service supports 802.11 b, g and n and is also VPN compatible. Initial charges require $99.99 device purchase fee, $49.99 activation fee and $15.00 shipping fee as well as the prorated balance of the first month service fee.

(Sprint Network) Unlimited Plan – No contract – Nationwide Coverage – Plan Details Missing – May only be available for current customers ($79.99)

  • Netgear 341U USB Device
  • Unlimited data
  • 3G/4G/LTE

Bring Your Own Device Plan – No contract – Nationwide Coverage

  • Bring Your Own Device
  • Soft capped unlimited data*
  • 3G, 4G, LTE

The Millenicom BYOD mobile broadband account is a no contract service that allows for nationwide coverage using the clients own mobile broadband device. There is a one-time set up fee of $49.99 to activate the account. The BYOD service is for personal and family use and is not to be used for commercial purposes or as a public WiFi or broadcast to multi-dwelling units or any other extraordinary circumstance. Usage over 50 gigabytes in one month will alert our investigative team. Devices usable with this plan: Customer must own a non-active mobile broadband device of the appropriate upstream carrier (email [email protected] for clarification). We highly recommend you contact us before signing up for this type of account to ensure your device is compatible. (*-Soft cap of 50GB)

Customers report Millenicom has been a reliable reseller for years and is tech-savvy about finding ways to deliver rural wireless broadband to customers without onerous usage caps. However, their services are only as good as your cell reception. Sprint’s 3G network is notoriously oversold and slow in urban areas but might still be useful in rural communities. Sprint’s older Clear WiMAX 4G network rarely offers coverage in rural areas. But rural residents are in luck: Sprint’s rollout of 4G LTE service seems to run against the grain of most wireless providers. Sprint is upgrading rural and small city towers for LTE service before many larger urban areas get the next generation 4G service.

“Anything is better than satellite,” writes Stop the Cap! reader Dan Gallo. He has been a loyal Millenicom customer in rural Virginia for several years, where Verizon DSL is still not available and cable companies are nowhere to be found. “That Sprint tower next to the highway three minutes from my house delivers a solid signal, so there is civilization here.”

Thanks also to Stop the Cap! reader Daniel alerted us to the story.

[flv width=”204″ height=”380″]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Jeff Schefke Rural internet setup 6-21-13.mp4[/flv]

Jeff Schefke shows off his involved Millenicom setup and illustrates the complexities of getting rural wireless broadband from Sprint or Verizon Wireless through Millenicom. Schefke reports normal speeds are up to 2.5/1Mbps, which is far better than the 120kbps he used to get on his phone. (4 minutes)

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daniel
daniel
8 years ago

Millenicom Billing To Me Today at 6:55 PM Dear Daniel We are very sorry to report that Sprint has reversed their decision from yesterday and terminated their agreement with the gateway for our Unlimited and BYOD accounts. We are not certain how long until the accounts will be closed. We will be shipping out Hotspot devices to those clients who had opted for that solution and BMI.net is ready to fulfill orders for those chosing to go with them. We have attempted to keep you informed every step of the way and avoid any abrupt transition. We apologize that we… Read more »

daniel
daniel
8 years ago

i will not be one to be nice sprint is a bunch of sorry sobs for reversing and going back on it.

i had nothing but good experances with milenicom and am saddened to see this happen.

i hope sprint gets the bad press they so muchly deserver for this action!

Mike
Mike
8 years ago

I got the same email… not sure what I’m going to do… they are pushing me towards BMI.net, but I do not know if they will honor the 50 gig cap… their website say 30 gig.

Ian L
8 years ago

MCom is dead, and my guess is that BMI and others of their ilk will be following relatively shortly. Sprint isn’t seeing the money per GB that they’d like out of those providers, I’m guessing. I have a few friends who were using MCom because there are no wireline broadband options where they live, short of a T1. Now they’re scrambling for alternatives, one being the local wireless ISP that was known a few years ago for not keeping up with increasing network demands, resulting in slow speeds and jagged latency graphs. They’ve upgraded their equipment now so maybe they’re… Read more »

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