The nations largest department store retailer launched their own branded prepaid mobile broadband service, earlier this year. Previously, Walmart had partnered with Virgin Mobile, and even still offers their own exclusive-to-Walmart $20-for-1GB data plan on Walmart-sold MiFi devices.
However, Walmart’s own “Internet On the Go” branded prepaid service was targeting a different market than Virgin Mobile; the more casual data user. While Virgin Mobile targets customers with relatively similar data usage paterns with its per-month service, Internet On the Go worked with tiered data access, including plans with no expiration date on the prepaid data.
However, Internet On the Go broadband has struggled to catch on. First, Walmart’s offering lacks a 4G component, whereas old stalwarts like Virgin Mobile and Clearwire now offer totally unlimited data starting as low as $35/month. And, newcomers like NetZero and FreedomPop offer free data tiers that are meant to scale up based on usage. Internet On the Go’s only main rival at this point is TruConnect, which also offers a pay-for-what-you-use 3G data solution.
What’s new with Internet On the Go is their new $45 plan. The plan offers 4 GB of 3G nationwide data, with no expiration date. The plan previously cost $119/month, but has been slashed dramatically to make Walmart Internet On the Go service competitive with its 4G rivals.
At $45 for 4 GB, a casual mobile data user could theoretically go an entire year with just one $45 payment. And, at 4 GB, there isn’t a need for 4G data, making the stale MiFi 2200 hotspot not seem like as much of an issue.
Finally, the $45 plan has an interesting secondary option. If you only plan to use the data over a 30 day period, you can opt to waive the never-expiring option for double the data. That nets you 8 GB of data to use in one month. Outside of unlimited tier plans, it’s the most data we see available in a sub-$50 prepaid data plan. It’s actually the best bang-for-your-buck in terms of metered, nationwide 3G prepaid data that we’ve seen since AT&T offered unlimited 3G prepaid data nationwide on its GoPhone pay as you go offering. PhoneNews.com was blamed directly by AT&T for exposing the potential, and triggering the demise of that plan.
Walmart Internet On the Go is a Sprint CDMA/EV-DO MVNO, and uses the Sprint 3G network exclusively.