I travel to the U.S. all the time. I spent more than five weeks there in the last year. And when I do so, I need to remain connected, just like home (and everybody else around me).
Since late 2009, I was using a prepaid Verizon Wireless 3G USB stick. I wasn’t ecstatic about it, but I didn’t hate it and it saved my bacon quite a few times. I was usually going with the $30 plan, which gave me 500MB of bandwidth valid for a week. Quite expensive, but hey, I’m a tourist, I’m used to getting ripped off by carriers.
Being on vacation in Vermont for a week, I headed off to the local Best Buy to get a prepaid refill card (their web-based system won’t let you enter a country for your credit card, so there’s no other way). Once there, they only had $50 cards. Again, not that big of a deal. That was supposed to get me a gigabyte for a month, which I’d share with my wife and kids by sharing the connection on my Mac.
Only this time, I thought about verifying what those $50 would get me for some reason. After inspecting the packaging of one of the said 3G USB sticks (only place the staff and I could find the rates), it was revealed that $50 would now only get me 500MB… 250MB for $30. It seems Verizon has doubled the price of their prepaid mobile broadband offering! Prices which, by the way, are in contradiction with the ones currently advertised on their site (still more expensive than before).
Hmmm, I don’t think sooooooo.
So I just bit my tongue and upgraded to:
- Virgin Broadband2Go: $50 gets me unlimited bandwidth for a month (they start throttling speed after 5GB). Lesser coverage is irrelevant to my U.S. travel patterns. I’m writing this from the deck of the Vermont lake cottage we’re staying at for the week, which is the most “remote” I really get in the States, and I’m getting around 1Mb/s download speeds.
- a Mifi card: I forked off the extra money and moved on to a Mifi card, which makes it easier to share the connection with the family.
So far so good.
Of course, if carriers weren’t such morons, they’d just let me happily pay them to use Personal HotSpot off of my factory unlocked iPhone 4 and skip the Mifi card (built in to all/my account in Canada)…. But who am I kidding?
PS: I paid ~$30 for a month of prepaid 3G in Mexico, at similar speed, and that got me 3GB of bandwidth for my month there. I guess overblown data prices really are a 1st World problem.