Cricket broadband at $40/mo, uncapped

Via Boing Boing Gadgets, Cricket is going to be getting a USB version EVDO modem for their wireless broadband service, and an uncapped data package at almost the same price as dial-up:

“PC card only for now, but a USB version is coming—with truly unlimited wireless data access with uncapped usage for just $35 a month.”

Now, that’s a hell of a lot better than $80/month … Only, wait a minute. It’s $40/month in Portland? No, it’s just that if you are an existing customer, you can save $5/mo. And, the PC Card modem is a one time charge of $99. And, there’s a $25 activation fee. So, there you go.

Update 7apr08 @ 8:11pm:

I’ve started to become skeptical about this.

First off, they still haven’t gotten the USB adaptors even though they occasionally show them in the graphics on the site.

But, more questionable is the way that there’s no useful technical information about the speed of the connection, instead the site relies on marketing speak and descriptive language to talk about the “broadband-like” speed. It’s all qualification without quantification.

Also, I noticed that the requirements include dial-up networking, which means the device is not treated as a network adaptor, but rather very much like a modem. That means one has to wait for the time it takes to authenticate, and to me that means unnecessary delay in connecting to resources. Also, that makes me think this is being routed not as a fast data network but rather over the normal voice path, if that makes sense.

So, buyer beware, I think, is the order of the day for this offering. It’s sounding more and more sketchy to me.

On the other hand, if one is hanging out in coffee shops in order to get online, it’s about the same cost as a cup o’ something every day, so maybe it’s still a reasonable thing for you, if it meets your needs.

Update 17jan09 @ 3:44pm:

A bunch of people are showing up on this old post. I’m still skeptical about the Cricket service. In Portland, there’s now Clear as an option.

I don’t know if Cricket will end up re-selling Clear service. As I understand it, the wireless broadband service that they’ve been re-selling has been Sprint, and Clear is partly Sprint also. Apparently the USB device is actually available now. But, Cricket’s uncapped really means limited, as it always seems to in the small print:

“Throughput may be limited if use exceeds 5GB per month. Internet browsing does not include: hosted computer applications, continuous web camera or broadcast, automatic data feeds, machine-to-machine connections, peer to peer (P2P) connections or other applications that denigrate network capacity or functionality.”

When compared to the Clear plans, Cricket’s limit of 5GB is actually pretty generous, although it would take a lot longer to suck that down over Cricket’s unadvertised speeds. Clear offers 200MB, 2GB, and unlimited plans at a variably 4 Mbps/384 Kbps connection. The same $40 bucks as Cricket will only get you a soft 2GB limit plan at Clear, and they will automatically charge you for overages. But, $50 will get you the “Unlimited” at Clear, but of course: “* Restrictions may apply.” Actually, the TOS and AUP at Clear seem to be pretty reasonable to me and don’t seem to include the small print limit, except of course for clauses which contemplate excess use that damages the service, but it’s not the same artificial ceiling.

Oh, and Clear is really pushing the special offer, but I think it’s totally bogus. From my reading you have to sign up for a 2 year contract and you only get a few bucks back for your voluntary lock-in. You save activation and $10/month for 6 months. That means you’re tied to the service for 2 years and only get a price break for 6 months? Meh. You save a total of $95 bucks and saddle yourself with 2 years and an early-termination fee? Long-term contracts are poisonous for technology, that’s one thing that Cricket has done right. Stick with Clear’s month-to-month, especially for something like broadband service.

The faster home service isn’t available in my area, apparently, so the bundles don’t apply to me yet; but, they also seem like a bad deal to me – just pay once for the service, not twice. You can use your mobile service at home, after all.

So, at least in this area, it seems like now Clear is a better option than Cricket’s service.

Oh, except for the fact that it isn’t for me. Cricket’s USB device works with Mac OS X. Cricket claims they aren’t compatible with Linux. Clear is only compatible with anything via their home although initially the rep I chatted with said neither. There’s no timetable for supporting Mac OS X over the USB device, and nothing said about Linux; and, apparently there’s some reason the connection manager software is required, which I find odd and worrisome:

[redacted] [5:29:36 PM]: There are some was to work it so the USB will work with Mac OS X. WinE or BootCamp. However, we don’t support troubleshooting the Connection Manager software when using these work arounds.

John [5:30:28 PM]: Right-o. Well, I’m out then. Is there a timetable for Mac drivers? Or, a mobile router the USB device can be plugged into?

[redacted] [5:31:35 PM]: I don’t have a projection for when we’ll have the Mac support finished, but we are working on it. As to a mobile router, nothing I’ve heard about or recommend at this time

John [5:31:42 PM]: (Wouldn’t home also be compatible with Linux? Doesn’t it offer ethernet?)

[redacted] [5:32:09 PM]: Home is plug and play, and currently works on all OS’s that we know of. Only the USB has issue currently, and that’s because it requires our Connection Manager to work correctly.

Ideally, I would want a mobile router with either and then it wouldn’t matter what devices I was using or how many. But, you know, of course they probably don’t want people to use those … Yeah.