Virgin Mobile Pay-As-You-Go Mobile Broadband Is Predictably ExpensiveS

Virgin Mobile has lifted the veil on its Broadband2Go service and accompanying 3G dongle. Its selling points—that it's contract-free and runs over Sprint's network—are somewhat negated by its $150 setup cost and punishing rates.

Instead of metering access directly, Virgin's scheme asks you to buy prepaid, time-loaded chunks of access. Here are the tiers:

$10: 100MB used within 10 days
$20: 250MB used within 30 days
$40: 600MB used within 30 days
$60: 1GB used within 30 days

Given these prices, puny bandwidth allocations and the $150 cost of the required Novatel Wireless MC760 dongle, this'll really only be an option for occasional users and people who really, definitely can't dive into a long data contract. Really though, how many people with contract-precluding credit ratings have any interest in mobile broadband? I'd say this one's only going to be appealing for travelers, recent arrivals with no credit history, or people without a clear idea of where they're going to be living in the next few months.

But I suppose those are the target demographics anyway. For perspective, the most affordable on-contract plans from AT&T and Sprint aren't any cheaper than Broadband2Go's highest price tier, though they're generally much more generous with bandwidth and subject to bundling discounts for preexisting phone customers. Available from today Correction: later this month, at Best Buy and online. [BGR]