[tabi] Re: buying a mobile wi-fi service

  • From: "Allison and Chip Orange" <acorange@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 25 Aug 2012 14:16:18 -0400

Hi Lynne,


If you go with Virgin Mobile as your data provider, just thought I’d mention 
that you can either buy airtime cards from places like walmart etc., and then 
have to enter a long number from the card to get the time you purchased, or you 
can use the virginmobileusa.com  site and enter a credit or debit card, and 
they’ll put the time on your account without having to read the number from a 
card and enter it.


For their cell phone customers, you can even setup automatic charge schemes 
(such as when you run out of time, or their minimum every 90 days, etc.) so you 
don’t ever have to bother doing anything to keep your account going.


I just saw today that VM also makes a 4g technology mobile hotspot (still using 
the Sprint network), but they say 4g data via Sprint is only available in 70 
markets (I’m guessing we are not one of them), so it would automatically fall 
back to 3g.  I’d check with the local Sprint store about 4g data before I’d 
invest in this one, as the unit and the data are more expensive.







From: tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of 
Lynn Evans
Sent: Saturday, August 25, 2012 1:56 PM
To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [tabi] Re: buying a mobile wi-fi service


Yes Chip your post was enough to to get me started. I have the iPad and a line 
phone. Iam not interested  in getting a cell phone at this time. It would be 
nice to be able to use my iPad on the city bus. I will continue to look into 
the subjec. 


thanks for revisiting the topic. 

Sent from my iPad

On Aug 23, 2012, at 9:38 PM, "Allison and Chip Orange" <acorange@xxxxxxxxxxx> 

Hi Lynn,


Well, I can’t remember if you have an I-phone; or any cell phone, but if you 
do, some of them will act as a mobile hotspot (there’s a slight charge from 
your cell carrier), but perhaps the first thing to look at is: can your cell 
phone act as the mobile hotspot, and how much will they charge you?  Give your 
provider a call.  Be sure to ask if you can take a voice call at the same time 
you’re using it as a wifi hotspot; it may keep you from receiving calls, I 
don’t know.


If that does not work out, I’m afraid what I know isn’t all that good:  you can 
buy a mobile wifi unit such as the Mi-Fi from Walmart.  It’s made by Virgin 
Mobile, is 3g technology (uses CDMA if that’s meaningful to you, and Virgin 
Mobile resells you time on the Sprint cell network).  You don’t have to have a 
contract with Virgin mobile, you can pay as you go, but the minimum payment is 
$20 per month, and your time doesn’t build up from one month to the next.  Even 
if you don’t use it at all in the month you paid for, your time is gone at the 
end of the month.  And for this $20 you get half a GB of data.  (If you buy 
your Mi-Fi unit from Walmart, there’s a deal where Walmart customers will 
always be given twice the amount of data you pay for, but you still have to pay 
the $20 a month my memory says).


There’s a competitor’s portable hotspot unit which uses 4g technology (GSM if 
that’s meaningful).  It’s usually faster.  The unit itself costs more, but I 
think the monthly charge, on the pay as you go plan, is still a minimum around 
$20.  I think T-mobile makes it.


Here it’s T-mobile (and maybe AT&T?) who offer the pay-as-you-go monthly data 
plans, so you’ll have to call each one of them up to see what their minimum 
charge is.  I think though it’s for a month, like VM, so that at the end of the 
month, any unused data just disappears.  I seem to recall they will sell you 
smaller amounts of time for a smaller minimum (something like $10 for a week 
sticks in my mind).  


These are great if you just want your I-pad to work the two weeks your on 
vacation and away from home; but if you want it to work all the time regardless 
of where you are, I have the idea from when I looked into this a year ago, that 
you’ll end up paying at least $20 a month.


Just in case you didn’t know, the units like the Mi-fi allow you to have up to 
5 devices connected at once, so if you have an I-pad and a laptop, or someone 
else, you can share the hotspot; I’m not so sure if you use your cell phone 
that more than one is allowed; if that’s important, you’ll want to ask.  
Sharing does impact the speed, so you won’t want to have two people trying to 
download movies at the same time; but sharing the connection among many devices 
is one of the big advantages over just turning on the cell data service for the 


Alternatively, there are websites which will help you find all the public free 
wifi spots in your city, or near a specific location; maybe you’ll find enough 
free hotspots so you won’t have to buy a plan?  I know that’s no help if you 
want this to work on dial-a-ride.


I hope this was of some help; let me know if I need to clarify anything.


Good luck,





From: tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of 
Lynn Evans
Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2012 1:20 PM
To: TABI Mailing list
Subject: [tabi] buying a mobile wi-fi service


I think we may have talked about this topic back in May.  I am looking into 
purchasing a mobile WI-FI hotspot for my I Pad. Right now I just can’t manage 
paying for a cellular account with AT&T at maybe $30 a month. 


My way of understanding this technology is I broke it down into 2 parts; the 
hardware or base unit and the data plan.  


I am hoping this will be cheaper than a cellular plan. I would own the mobile 
unit. I would only use the data plan when the tap is on so to speak so I 
wouldn’t have to pay anything when not in use. 


I am still trying to get a grasp on the terminology. If I buy the base unit 
from a retail store it would be up to me to choose a data plan.  This is 
provided I don’t purchase  the unit from Verizon or AT&T or another provider.   


Buying the base unit may be the easy part. I found one on buy.com today for $29 
marked down from $79.  


The hard part would be to choose the data plan.  It would be nice to  just go 
to “Data plans are Us”. 


So to you who are knowledgeable about such things I invite you to put forth 
your best arguments on this topic.   

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