This article is a review of the Virgin Mobile mifi 2200. In case you do not know, mifi is a portable device that creates a wifi network from 3G/4G services. Basically, it uses the internet that people get on their phones and allows you to connect to that internet using a wifi device (like you would on a home wireless network). Since my wife is taking online classes and I am teaching online classes, and we find ourselves needing to travel quite a bit, we decided to purchase a mifi device and service.
After thorough review, it was clear that the recent Virgin Mobile mifi plan has the best overall price point. Virgin Mobile uses Sprint’s 3G network (check coverage map on Virgin Mobile’s website). It is fast and reliable. It is comparable to a bottom of the line dsl high speed internet service. Here is some technical jargon since you asked. In Roanoke, VA and Bedford, VA I have been averaging speeds of about 1.1 mbs download and 0.3 mbs upload, with download test results ranging between 0.68 mbs – 1.91 mbs, and with pings between 300-500ms (best ping was 167ms and worst was 527ms). It has proven to be enough to watch videos (such as through Netflix, and class lessons) and perform skype video conversations, though the performance can vary depending on the time of day and location.
The device itself is the Virgin Mobile mifi 2200. This device is about the size of a stack of 4-5 credit cards. It is very lightweight, durbable, and simple with only one button. It is password protected (with the password being written on the bottom of the device) and has a battery life of about four hours. For times over four hours, the device does continue to work while plugged into the wall or usb charging port. Despite what some have said, I have noticed no difference in speed tests with the device plugged in or not. Up to five wifi devices (laptops, phones, ipods, etc.) can connect to this mifi unit at the same time and can all connect up to 30-40 feet away.
The Plan is one of the most amazing features of the device. There are two plan rates to suite your needs: for $10 you can get 100MB of internet usage expiring after 10 days or for $40 you receive an unlimited amount of data for 1 month. There is no contract. Compare this with Verizon’s $60 per month, two year contract, and 5 GB data limit. Basically, if Virgin Mobile’s coverage suits your needs, this is an amazing deal.
The total cost of this plan and device is far superior to others for several reasons. You only pay $40 per month for unlimited data ($480 in savings over two years compared to Verizon’s limited plan). You only have to pay for months that you need it. Likewise, you can switch to only using the $10 plan if that is all you need for a particular time or trip. The device itself costs about $150, though Walmart was selling the device for $119 online (may have changed since this post was written).
Additional Note on Costs:
One way this can quickly become cost effective is when it is paired with an effective phone plan. For example, my wife and I currently spend $103 per month for two smartphones with texting (including picture and video texts) and unlimited data via mifi, and we are not locked into any contracts. We have two phones with Page Plus (Verizon network and coverage) for $30 each per month for 1200 minutes talking, 1200 text messages, and 50 MB of data. In addition, we have the mifi service with Virgin Mobile for $40 per month, and $3 per month skype account (with unlimited calling to any phone in the US and Canada). Skype on the smartphone allows unlimited talking when in 3G coverage. Also, people sell smartphones relatively cheap since they are required to have a data plan on Verizon, but with Page Plus, no data plan is required regardless of the phone. In the end, we are paying $103 per month for two phones with unlimited talking, 1200 texts, and unlimited data for any of our wifi devices, on Verizon’s network (and Virgin Mobile) with no contracts at all. Let me know if you have any questions about this setup.
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