Mobile Broadband prices

Recently, I priced Verizon’s new Mobile Broadband service on the LTE network. I have read many reviews about how Verizon 4G LTE blows away Sprint 4G WiMAX. I was thinking about buying a modem for my wireless devices–you can get a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Plus 8GB Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 for $250, but it only comes with WiFi. There are many inexpensive wireless tablets. I was thinking that if I purchased a Wireless Verizon MiFi 4510L 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot Router WiFi device, I could use it with my laptop or with a tablet. When I spoke to the Verizon reps, I discovered the following.

If you want to use a Verizon 4G LTE modem (e.g., MiFi 4510L), then you have to purchase the modem from Verizon, and you have to sign a two year contract for a minimum of $50 per month with plan with a 5GB per month data cap. So, you have to make a commitment to spend $1,200, plus taxes and surcharges, over two years. I was not prepared to spend this much money, plus I do not use 5GB of data per month–I mostly just check my email and checkout a Web site on occasion. So, I asked about the Verizon 3G network.

If you want to go the prepaid, non-contract, route, then you have to choose to use the 3G Verizon network only. MiFi 2200 3G, version one, costs $150 if you buy it from Verizon, and the smallest prepaid data plan offered is 1GB for $50 per month. The only positive thing about this plan is that there are no activation fees.

If you are willing to settle for a 3G modem, the Sprint 3G network is a lot cheaper than Verizon’s 3G and probably just as good, if not better. I think that the best deal for me is through Virgin Mobile. For $20 per month with no activation fee, you can get 500MB per month of 3G network data traffic. The MiFi 2200 sells for $130 on the Virgin Mobile website. If you are willing to spend $50 per month, you can get unlimited data on Sprint’s 3G network.

Verizon is gouging its customers with their expensive data plans. However, since Verizon’s business is starting to slow down (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/20/technology/verizon-reports-a-profit-of-1-7-billion.html?_r=1), they are planning to introduce some new data plans, this summer.

Apparently, Verizon is less threatened if you buy a tablet with 4G LTE included. If you buy a 4G LTE tablet (Ipad 3 or Galaxy Tab), Verizon offers a 2GB-per-month data plan for $30, the 5GB for $50 and the 10 GB for $80. The data plans require a 2 year contract. It appears that Verizon was forced to match AT&T pricing plan for tablets.

By the way, AT&T has 4G LTE in 35 cities. The prepaid data plan with a modem from AT&T (DataConnect Month Pass 1GB) costs $50 per month for 1GB of data. However, at least you get 4G data speeds with a prepaid modem. This is probably the best 4G prepaid plan at this time. If you purchase an IPAD with AT&T 4G, they offer a 3GB of data transfer for $30 per month (vs 2GB with Verizon). So, whether your purchase a tablet or a modem, AT&T has better prices than Verizon for 4G LTE services.

So, the bottom line is that if your need 4G LTE and you have the money to purchase a dedicated tablet, go with AT&T at 3GB for $30 per month. If you need the versatility of a modem and you can be satisfied with 3G speeds, purchase a MiFi 2200 modem on Ebay and get the Virgin Mobile prepaid service with 500 MB for $20 per month (or unlimited data for $50 per month).

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