Good "Cheap Dongle only $30 But They Make It Up In High Monthly Fees!" Bad "Bait & Switch Price, Slow, Frequent Disconnects!" Overall "Initally Faster Than Virgin Mobile But Too Little Data To Do Much."
Pre Sales Information: Install process: Connection reliability: Tech Support: Services: Value for money:
They don't provide enough data to do anything much except check email occasionally if you have it set to text only and hopefully nobody will send you any attachments! When Virgin Mobile speed dropped to 56K it became unusable and they capped it at 5Gb then reduced that to 2.5Gb but by then it was too slow to use so I decided to drop them and try Cricket Broadband since they advertise "unlimited data" for just $30/mo and the USB dongle is just $30 at Walmart.
Cricket is practicing Consumer Fraud with Bait & Switch though since they are advertising "unlimited data" for just $30/mo on TV and on the front of the box but when you open the box it says that $30/mo only gets you 1Gb of data a month!
The dialer or connection manager Cricket provides is more full featured than most. While the Virgin Mobile dialer only provides an indication of being connected with signal strength the Cricket dialer displays signal strength, up and download speeds and has tabs to show Statistics and connection history with total data downloaded and several things including text messages. Having text messages means you will get SPAM text messages though and there's no way to block them!
Speed was initally a bit faster than VM and tested at 1Mb down at first but it's since slowed down to 70k on the highly optimistic speedtest dot net test. It will not work to play videos at that slow speed and there is not enough data available to do that anyway so I tried using it to just play internet radio stations just to use up the 1Gb of data I paid for. I quickly ran into problems though because I was frequently disconnected so it's a real pain to have to keep manually reconnecting in order to keep the station playing. Also the dialer goes dormant everytime it's not sending data and sometimes never wakes up or just disconnects at random.
This uses CDMA and works pretty much like Sprint and Virgin Moblie, even installing the USB dongle as a modem on a serial port but it doesn't seem to use Sprint's PCS network even though it's also on 1900Mhz. A trace route shows it going to Cricket's network then right to Level3 and on to the destination. Since it doesn't get lost in the Sprint network like data from Virgin Mobile does you would think it would be a lot faster connecting right to Level3.
Due to being horribly over priced this service is worthless except for a backup in emergencies when nothing else is available and you just need to check email. But that's if it is working and it didn't even last but a few days before getting too slow to use.
Some shills for the company have made comments that it must be customer/user error so for comparison I tried T-Mobile broadband using another USB adapter on the same laptop in the same location and got pretty fast speeds of 3Mb down/1.2Mb up! That really puts Virgin Mobile and Cricket to SHAME!
T-Mobile data is INSANELY Expensive though costing $50/mo for just 1Gb of data so I was only able to afford to use it for one day to do the tests using the "unlimited daypass" costing $1.49/day. At that price it would cost me $200 just to watch a movie on Netflix!