Review of Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go USB Modem

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I’ve taken a look at a few cell phones lately from Verizon and AT&T, today we have a new company joining us which is Virgin Mobile, but it’s not a cell phone, though it does use their services.

Today for review I’ve got the Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go  USB Modem that works on the Virgin Mobile wireless network offering you the ability to stay connected quickly and easily by just plugging in what resembles  USB thumbdrive into you laptop or netbook. It’s very simple to use, it’s plug and play really, and the Modem doubles as a microSD card reader so you can transport data with you or even read the card from you phone. The speeds I got are decent, but not blazingly fast, then again I’m accustomed to 20/30 FIOS, so pretty much everything seems slow to me, but they’re what you’d expect from a wireless cell phone provider in terms of speed. So read on to learn more..


So it comes in a box, and inside that box is another plastic box.

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Inside that plastic box you’ll find a lanyard and the USB modem itself. it looks just like a UBS thumbdrive, maybe a little bit bigger than average though, but not much.

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I should note also that on the back you’ll find a microSD slot, so you can pop a card in there and use it for extra storage as well, or actually as a USB drive or microSD card reader basically.
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Specifications:

Broadband2Go

It’s 3G Nationwide Wireless Internet Without A Contract

Get 3G web access from your laptop. Just connect a Broadband2Go device, choose a plan, and you’re good to go.

GREAT NEW BROADBAND2GO RATES: Most plans now include even more MBs for no extra cost.

-Connect without Wi-Fi or hotspots
-Pay As You Go with no monthly bills
-Use cash (Top-Up), credit, or debit
-Plans start at just $10

Key Features:
-Plug and play with automatic installation
-Built-in usage meter lets you know how many megabytes you have left in your Broadband2Go Plan
-“EVDO REV A” technology for fast transfers
-Doubles as a flash drive with microSDTM reader (microSD card sold separately)

What’s Included:
-Broadband2Go USB Device (Ovation MC760 by Novatel Wireless)
-Quick Start Guide
-Preloaded Novatel Wireless Software & User Guide
-Lanyard

Pricing & Service Details
Virgin Mobile USA’s customers have access to broadband service on the Nationwide Sprint Network reaching more than 280 million people. Customers also have access to high speed broadband service with average downlink data speeds between 600 and 1400 Kbps. High speed broadband service not available in all areas.

Data usage per activity is based on an average. Bandwidth varies by website, video, email and other Internet applications.

Price: $99.99


The Broadband2Go USB modem is just like a USB thumbdrive, plug it in and you’re ready to go really. You will of course have to install the software that’s already on it to access the Virgin Mobile network, but that takes only a minute of so.

I used this with my Acer Aspire One D250 netbook running Windows 7 and I had no issues with the installation of it.

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The interface is a small box that appears on your screen and gives you signal strength, along with connected time and data used and there’s a Connect/Disconnect button as well.

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There are also some other options that you can select from the drop down menus.

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When you first start up your browser you’ll be taken to your account page where you can see how much data you have and information about your plan with options to renew of course.

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As far as speeds go, to me it seemed slow, but I’m accustomed to 20/30 FIOS, and wireless G as well on there. Obviously 3G speeds are slower, so it’s going to feel slower to me.

I went to SpeedTest.net and DSLReports.com with both FireFox and internet Explorer. The reason I use both browsers is because I’ve come to realize that they both report different speeds for almost the same distances.

Here’s FireFox:

dsl reports FF speed test net FF

..and here’s Internet Explorer results:

dsl reports IE speed test IE

As you can see for the DSLResports test there’s quite a big difference in the browsers. On SpeedTest.net though we have similar upload speeds but the download speed vary quite a bit, almost halved..

Here’s the rates for this service:

rates

Now at first I was thinking that it’s a bit expensive, but then I started browsing a bit, for over an hour actually and found I didn’t even really use that much of the 300mb I was allotted for this review. I honestly didn’t think that 300mb was going to really give me the 15 hours of web browsing that it claimed to. I used about 30mb in an hour just browsing around sites like Digg, Engadget, technogog and many other sites and I was surprised when I checked the balance. Granted some of these sites I visited were picture heavy, but most sites are these days.

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If you add it up and I averaged close to 30mb per hour, that gives us about 10 hours of browsing which is close to what’s stated, sort of. Of course it all depends what kind of browsing you do as to how much data you’ll use for any given time period, so I think in the end it might all average out to very close to 15 hours of web browsing as stated. I can’t exactly test the whole 25,000 emails statement, but I think it’s fair to say that’s more than enough email for anyone. As far as video, that 300mb supposedly gives you one hour of video and that isn’t worth it at all, personally I wouldn’t waste the broadband time on watching videos. 300Mb costs $20, which means essentially you’re paying $20 for one hour of videos, that’s not even enough for a full movie. It’s truly not worthwhile to use this service for watching videos, at least I personally wouldn’t use something like this in that way…

It’s not bad, but the speeds vary, and the signal strength does too. It was fairly clear and sunny day when I tested the Broadband2Go modem so there shouldn’t have been any interference. According to the map for the Pittsburgh Are where I am I should have very good coverage through Virgin Mobile.

Here’s both coverage maps, regular and high speed for my area:

map1 map2

According to the maps I should have very good speeds and signal strength, and for the most part speeds and signals were good, but as I said they varied at time.

If you looked closely at the screen shots of the interface you may have noticed one said that I was on EVDO and the other said I was using 1RXTT, which means I went from 3G to 2G or 2.5G essentially somewhere along the way.. What I’m trying to say is that it switched yes, but I didn’t even notice the difference at all until I actually looked at it and saw I was not on EVDO.

One small complaint I could have about this product is that the data comes in 30day or 10day allotments and whatever you don’t use won’t roll-over so you’ll lose it. From what I read if you buy more before you use what you have you’ll lose them as well, so if you have a few MBs left when you refill you lose them and they’re not added to the total, and the cycle begins anew.


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Conclusion:

The Virgin Mobile Brandband2Go USB Modem is not a bad choice if you need internet access on the go, it’s simple and easy to use and seems to offer decent speeds overall. The speeds are comparable to those you’d get on your phone, but you’ll be able to use your laptop or netbook and have a nice big screen. What’s nice is that it’s not a contract, you’re not stuck paying a monthly bill, and you can use it whenever you need to basically after you buy it.

It’s great for just browsing the web and email, but I wouldn’t use it for watching videos as there it becomes quite costly.

I had no issues with connectivity, in a few seconds I was online and browsing the web and I never lost connection either.

I don’t like the fact that there is no roll over and the fact that if you refill before you run out you’ll lose your remaining minutes. That just doesn’t sit right with me at all. Personally I would want to refill before I ran out, but if you do that you’ll lose money essentially…

8

Pros:
+Easy usage and installation
+Small and portable
+Includes microSD slot for storage / card reader
+Worthwhile for email and web browsing

Cons:
-Speeds and signal can vary
-Cost for video use is expensive

Grades:
Overall score-8-10
Design score-8-10
Performance score-7-10

To learn more about our review policy please visit this page HERE.

  • http://dave-lucas.blogspot.com Dave Lucas

    Has anyone tried Broadband2Go software with a Netbook running WinCE or with a desktop running software UNDER the recommended platforms?

    • The_native_american

      Dave, What results did you confirm with the desktop?

  • peter

    I bought it two days ago (for $79+tax). It did not install on my Win Vista laptop. The guy in the shop had the same problem. In a second shop the same: The drive do not install :-(

  • lin ngu

    My software broadband2go did not work because I did not disconnect it, then stay whole zeroes stay there. How can I fixed

  • Lou

    I live in a rural area. I’ve had to use dial up for the ten years that I’ve had the internet. The goodolebillionaireboys@att.com will NEVER run dsl out here. I do work related research on Saturdays at home. Takes 4 to 6 hours to do 1 hour of work. The satellite providers want a 2 year 70 bux per month commitment. I discovered broadband2go and grabbed it. I had a hard time with the install. Gave Virgin a call and WHAM!! I got broadband in the CONEtry!!! I get 600 to 900 kbps. After dealing with hairpullin’, cussin’, stroke producing 15-25 kbps dial up for ten years this is hi speed heaven. I can go a month’s research on the $20 300MB plan with lots left over to watch some work related instructional videos on you tube at 4MBs per minute. It more than covers giving up some days and spending 5 bux on gas and go the library internet 10 miles away.

  • Art Lowe

    BB2G is NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME.

    It works reasonably well in WinXP wherever you can get a Sprint cellphone signal until…
    something goes wrong with your system and you get the infamous blue screen. After that, you will never* be able to use the BB2G in that computer again. It will work fine in other PCs, at least until the blue screen appears. It is very definitely a driver problem — but addressing that is so far above the capabilities of the (no) tech (lack of) support script readers at Virgin that you will just waste your time contacting them. Save yourself the time and trouble of calling them.

    * If you bought the BB2G from a merchant that will exchange it for a new one then you *might* be able to function until the next blue-screen event. Re-installing the operating system *might* work, too. I haven’t tried either yet.

  • Ken

    I have had it for almost a month now, I had a problem with the installation on my HP windows 7 laptop, I called virgin mobile and they walked me throught the installation and after that have had no problems with startup. The problem I have is it is SLOOOW, sometimes using internet explorer V8 when I try to connect to my hotmail account it times out because it is so slow at connecting. I have had this occur both in Vegas and L.A in places where I have had good phone reception (vegas is sprint territory so there should not be a problem) but I didnt buy it for constant access, just when I cant use a local hotspot but it reminds me of those old dial up modem days-minus the sound of the connections.

    • Gregoryjoseph

      Internet Explorer is your problem. It’s THE worst browser.

  • Rick G

    WOULD NOT WORK WITH MY HP MINI 210 NETBOOK

    I plugged the Broadband2go USB modem into my netbook USB port and my computer did not successfully install the drivers; then, the software on the modem would not initiate the setup process. After several unfruitful install tries I called Virgin Mobile tech support. The first tech said that my Windows 7 starter OS was the problem. I then upgraded to Windows 7 Home Premium. This made no difference at all and the installation problems were the same as before. I then made a second call to Virgin Mobile tech support and nothing we tried resolved the issue. The tech then said he had done some research and found that my netbook was not compatible and this USB modem would not work in it. I wish Virgin Mobile would have made possible compatibility issues much more clear beforehand so I could have avoided several wasted hours. Thankfully the store (Hooray Radio Shack!) gave me a full refund.

  • ed

    DO NOT BUY THIS!!! The connection is useless. Despite having a connection of 3 bars most webpages time out and when they do load it takes forever. Until this is resolved don’t bother.

  • Bill in NC

    As Ed said, it is getting slammed and is useless during the day.

    Here on the east coast it works OK early in the morning, while the west coast is still asleep.

    But remains unusable during the day (pages simply won’t load)

  • Jon

    Doh, i should of read this review and comments before buying. Just picked it up today to use while i am out of town. But boy did i get suckered in the $40 unlimited pre-paid plan, i really fell for it. While i am using it right now to post this, it is basically useless to surf with. Can’t even load my bank or email properly. Having used the sprint data card a couple years ago, it was ok. One or two bars usually, but usually pages loaded fairly quickly. (since virgin piggybacks the sprint network, i was hoping it would at least be close). Then this summer i had the AT&T data card, expensive but did the job well. I canceled the service because my wireless bills total were just way too high for the data card w/ my cell phones. And i hated being on contract, so i thought going the pre-paid route would at least do justice, but atm i’m just disappointed. Hope they improve it asap.

  • Jeff in VA

    Just bought the thing this past weekend. The install was a little confusing, but I got it done. I’m getting about 1 meg service. The cable internet at the house is about 4 meg, but it is really flakey. I’m happy with it – must be in a good spot.

  • Nick

    They don’t work. I’ve tried 4 from Best Buy (and tried each one with different pc’s with win xp, vista and win 7) and they wouldn’t work. Three friends bought one also and couldn’t get them to work… and we all tried getting help from VM’s tech support. The guy working the VM kiosk at Best Buy told me that over 80% of the usb 2 go’sthat they had sold had been returned because they didn’t work.

  • John Fahlsing

    I like the graph of speed between IExplorer and Firefox. Wish you had also tested with Google Chrome.

  • Petercrisssgirl

    I just bought the MI-FI 2200 with the $40 unlimited card…works awesome~My son does XBOX Live and I can surf and watch videos at the same time. I have had dial-up for 9 years. I am very happy with my results so far. I was hesitant from some reviewers but I must have a good spot. My signal strength is always excellent, sometimes fluctuates to good. Well worth it for me!

  • Sandykeys60

    We purchased a virgin mobile2go and that started the biggest headache ever. Called the c/s # and you get the Phillipines. No one could or would help with our proble. They would put you on hold and just leave you there. Or they would tell you someone will call you back. After 3 days we toke our computer to be repaired. Broadband2go caused our computer to crash and have a virus. We have been calling for 3 1/2 months and get the same response. They either put you on hold and never come back, hang up or say “someone will call you back. As of today someone is supposed to call us back from MEXICO. Something must be done about the poor service this company has and the employees they hire.

  • MI Girl

    Has anyone used this for wii? Does anyone know how it can work for wii? I’ve tried just plugging it in, but it gets error code 51030: “The only wireless network within range of your Wii console is not configured or is not compatible with the Wii.”

    Thanks.

    MiGirl

  • Tom

    I was very hopeful when I bought my device for $99 plus tax and shipping to Maui. But I’m surprised I haven’t smashed the thing to bits by now because it’s like being back in the days of trying to use the net on dial-up. I use it in Kihei, HI and Sacramento, CA. Even when there are 4 bars of signal it’s very slow and choppy. Add to that the time spent on the phone trying to deal with re-establishing connectivity and charging me two times for one month of service. Today my device was suddenly “deactivated” requiring more time on the phone to fix it. If I didn’t have a cell phone I’d have been screwed. I’d recommend spending a bit more for another company’s device and service.

  • Gallowayd03

    I CAN NOT GET MY COMPUTER TO RECINIZE MY VIRGIN MOBILE

  • Lou Jagerman

    Only gripe is very fussy software when used with Windows 7 on an HP Mini 110-3130NR. Give it a dirty look and the “device” is not “found.” To reduce the chances for this, you’ve got to disconnect every time you’re done, and be sure to wait intil this process is finished. When we-staring, again go very slowly. If you have other devices plugged in (even just flash drives) and you go too fast, again this device will not be recognized.
    And often nothing you do works.
    If you call ViginMobile on this, the technician first will not even know this device exists (all (s)he knows is cell phones) and then once you get someone who knows what Broadband2go is, (s)he will know zilch on what to do.
    My best advice is restart computer. (The website gives directions on what to do if device not recognized, but they are simply wrong!

  • pj

    Virgin Mobile has the worst customer service on the planet. I got a defective device two months ago. I called and they said they’d send a replacement. I’ve now made 9 calls, spent over 5 hours on the phone, gotten 7 false promises it would be here in a few days, gotten three return envelopes for the defective one which they admit they already received, spoken to three supervisors, gotten one more defective replacement, been told a tech person would call me back within 24 hours to make that one work and it’s been 54 hours and I never got a call. This has been a nightmare that has wasted hours of my life. I finally filed a complaint with my credit card company and disputed the charges. I have never, ever felt so powerless, disrespected and frustrated with a company. Even if they replaced the device now I will never do business with a company that treats their customers this way. Rule one of business (I own one myself): VALUE your customers and treat them well – they pay your bills. STAY AWAY from Virgin Mobile, they couldn’t care less about you.

  • Dswiss

    Bought one today at Walmart. It wouldn’t connect to my IBM thinkpad – maybe its because it has an older USB version (not 2.0). So I went upstairs to my wife’s Dell and there it did boot up. But once it came to the sign on screen it crashed, and from there on it refused to even connect. Returned it today. Unfortunately, I am out of $20 because I bought a $20 top-up card and they wouldn’t allow it to be returned.

  • uri

    Walmart sells them and you get a 50 dollar a month, special walmart plan, that gives you up to 2.5gbs at the dsl bandwith (for me its around 100-200kbs) which is ok… and uploads at around 75kbs) though after you reach the 2.5gb limit it throttles you down to something much much lower… i get up to 32kbs download and upload of up to 20kbs.

    Personally this is not really acceptable, But i don’t have any actual dsl fiber optic cables or co-axle for high speed internet were i live (back down a dirt road) so its this or satellite or dial-up..

    We all hate dial up with a passion. Satellites simply to expensive. its 300$ a month for 1gbs download and 100mbs upload in my area. Thats out landish to me. So i stick with the bb2go for now… Hopfully Clear wire will get there ass’s in gear and provide service out here soon… there service literally ends like 2 miles out of range for me its horrible. at least with clearwire i could get 100-200kbs continually for the same monthly price..

    (i play online games or rather TRY to) and work outside of scheduled program hours so i either download it… which takes like 10 hours per 1gb for me. Or i don’t watch it. god forbid theres a massive game update to anything i play or i wont be able to play for the day or 2..3 …*sigh*

    • uri

      oh ya.. just an fyi .. I have had service outages for up to a week at one point. usually for a couple hours but ya there was one time in my 6 months of using that it went out for a whole week.

      The modem it self will routinely disconnect you if you leave it logged on for more then a few hours to download something. Signal strength in my area at least fluctuates dramatically from 85db to 125db over 100db is like 2 or less bars, out of 5. if your really pushing the modem to multi-task download aka download more then one thing at a time, it will either bounce back and forth rather then evening the speeds out, or it will just straight drop you down to a 1xrtt (1g service, horrible. rather then a evdo rev.a, 3g service, tolerable) connection, which for me means i get 10kbs or less download speeds.

      I even at one point went and spent 50$ on a separate antenna for usb modems even, that was supposed to increase signal strength gain by up to 20db. I did not get any gain after using it, i dunno if this was just the antenna or if bb2go just doesn’t like external antenna’s. I’ve also tried the foil idea’s and such to try and get a gain, theres no difference for me at least. (with or without)

      Customer service is worthless. I swear there a bunch of recently acclimated English speaking individuals with out any service knowledge. one of my top 5 most worthless and useless customer service experiences. They have NO knowledge base at all to go on and try to get you to restart your modem and reset it over and over…

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