Best prepaid mobile broadband in the U.S.
August 2, 2011 10:31 AM   Subscribe

What's the best prepaid mobile broadband service for use in the U.S.?

I've found myself doing a lot of traveling within the U.S. and constantly get stuck in areas without Internet access. We're not talking about the boonies, so there's great cellular coverage, just no wired or wireless Internet.

I have a smartphone and the ability to tether it for data, but it doesn't seem entirely stable and loves to revert back to EDGE at random, inconvenient times.

What I'd really like is the sort of prepaid mobile broadband that's seemingly common all over the rest of the world. I'd like to buy a USB aircard thing, put a prepaid SIM in it, and then pay per-megabyte for usage without a monthly fee, recharging it when I hit $0 balance. That way if I go a month or two without needing it, I don't get slammed for something I'm not using. I'd rather pay more for data than be on any sort of regularly-billed plan.

Does anything like this exist in the U.S.? I've looked a bit at Virgin Mobile and Cricket, but their "prepaid" services seem more like "contract-less" services. Which is nice, but I don't want to be on a monthly plan at all.

Any ideas?
posted by Kadin2048 to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I use virgin mobile mifi. My plan is 5GB for $40 a month prepaid. They piggyback on the sprint network. If you are planning on using less data than that, I believe they also have a 100 MB plan for $10 that's valid for a month -- this may work out for you depending on how often you're here and how much data you need.

I'm unaware (after having searched for it myself) for any prepaid / megabyte plan.
posted by garlic at 1:51 PM on August 2, 2011

While Virgin Mobile would probably prefer you to sign up for automatic monthly renewal, their plans really are prepaid and don't require that... you can buy one data bucket (which happens to have a 1 month expiration date) at a time as you need them. If you do go for Virgin Mobile, I'd recommend buying your device at Wal-Mart, because if you do that the $20 bucket is 1GB instead of 500MB if you buy your device anywhere else.

I also have not seen or heard of a per-megabyte prepaid broadband plan. If there was one it would probably, given the way the major carriers have priced their prepaid mobile broadband, be horrendously expensive anyway...
posted by robt at 8:00 PM on August 2, 2011

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