Prepaid Mobile Data Getting More Affordable in the US?
While the prices aren’t exactly where I’d like them to be, it appears the major US mobile operators are finally starting to get a clue about mobile data services and are at least offering something approaching reasonable. I realize there are some resellers where you might be able to get slightly better deals than these.
On their “Pay As You Go” prepaid plan, you have a couple of options: a Web day pass for $1.49/day, or the ability to buy a 100MB, 300MB, or 1GB chunk of data for $10, $30, and $50 respectively (good for 10, 30, and 30 days respectively). Depending on what they restrict you to, the web day pass might be the most cost-effective option. You can also get prepaid monthly voice plans that include data–also a bonus.
You can also buy a USB broadband device and use the data service on a prepaid basis.
Sprint offers prepaid service under both the Virgin Mobile USA and Boost Mobile brand. Virgin Mobile USA includes “unlimited web” in their $25/mo rate plan, which also includes unlimited text and 300 minutes of voice. When you pair this with the Samsung Intercept they sell, this actually becomes a rather compelling offering. Or if you want to use a Blackberry device, add $10/mo.
If you don’t want to be tied to a handset $40/mo will get you unlimited data using a USB Broadband or Mifi device.
Boost Mobile has less compelling devices. They have monthly plans that include unlimited web. On the Pay-as-you-go variety, they offer unlimited web for $0.35/day. Of course, would you want to use the web on one of those phones?
AT&T has loosened up somewhat with the prepaid data, but not too much. You can get a $75/mo unlimited prepaid voice/text plan that comes with 200MB of data. For their Pay as you Go plan (what they now call their Simple Rate Plan), you can get 100 MB of data for $19.99 (per 30 days).
For data cards, you can either get 200MB of data for $35 or 5GB of data for $60. Both are good for 30 days.
Verizon Wireless is the stingiest of the operators when it comes to prepaid data. On their prepaid monthly plans–which are far more pricey than the competition–you can add data for $30/mo. The pay-as-you-go plans don’t offer data that I can see.
For data cards, you can get anywhere from 100 MB for $10 (good for 1 day) to 5GB for $80 (good for 30 days). Definitely the worst deal of the four major carriers.
It’s nice to see that the mobile operators are coming down on their prepaid data prices. That said, they are still too expensive compared to some other countries. Hopefully the “vibrant competition” the CTIA says our market has will continue to push the prices downward.