virgin-mifi I previously discussed the MiFi and similar 3G-to-wireless-router devices as a possible way of “retrofitting” Kindle-like 3G download-anywhere connectivity to e-book devices (not to mention iPads, laptops, and so on).

From GearLog comes news that prepaid cellular company Virgin Mobile will shortly be releasing a $149 MiFi router that will work on prepaid principles (much like the 3G service available for the iPad through AT&T). Buy the device, then pay for bandwidth if and as you need it. (An $80 USB modem is already available for using the service with laptops.)

The $149 price compares favorably to the price difference for adding 3G to an iPad—true, it’s $20 more, but you can use it with any device you have and not just the non-tetherable iPad. Of course, it’s a lot more than the $50 value that Barnes & Noble assigns to its Nook’s unlimited 3G connection, but you can do even less with that connection than you can with the iPad’s.

The bandwidth plans range from $10 for a 10-day, 100-megabyte plan, up through $60 for 5 gigabytes of bandwidth that expire in 30 days. Save for the $60 plan, these plans are a bit pricier than the iPad’s 250-meg for $15, 2 gig for $25 plans.

At the high end, Virgin’s $60 for 5 gigs works out to slightly less per gig than Apple’s $25 for 2 gigs—assuming you use that much bandwidth in a month. (And it’s the same amount Verizon charges for its contract-required MiFi 3G—and in fact, the $20 for 300 megabyte plan is half the amount Verizon charges for 250 megabytes per month.) But again, this is a plan that will work with any and all wifi devices you have, not just an iPad, so the extra outlay might well be worth it.


  1. I rooted my Droid and use the 3G as a WiFi connection. Android 2.2 includes it as a feature as does the PalmPre, I believe. I think the feature can also be turned on in jailbroken iPhones. Lots of option for people with smart phones who don’t want to incur extra fees. 🙂

  2. I have a Virgin Mobile pay as you go modem for my MacBook and it works like a charm. The first time I used it I plumped for the $60/5G option, and after using the MacBook for days and days to manage the site while I was on vacation I only used 104Mb of data. When you hit your limit they cut you off, so you can’t unknowingly run up high data charges. The modem is available at Best Buy for $99, but I got it direct from Virgin for $79.

    I’m going to buy this WiFi unit because it will let me use my iPad, iPhone, etc.

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