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
Correction: later this month, at Best Buy and online. [BGR]