A Best Buy internal memo has confirmed that the retailer will shut down its Connect mobile broadband MVNO as of June 1st. Customers using 3G services via internal GOBI laptop modems will be given the option to transition to carrier supported USB dongles as well as customers using branded 3G MiFi modems and hotspots. Customers using branded WiMax service will be given the option to transition to Clearwire’s CLEAR service, while gift cards of various amounts will also be sent via email to affected customers.
The following schedule will be followed for each service affected:
- 4G WiMax equipped laptops – Offer transition to Clear – $125 Gift Card
- 3G GOBI equipped laptops – Offer USB/hotspot from alternative carrier – $125 Gift Card
- 3G Prepaid USB dongle – Offer USB dongle from alternative carrier – $125 Gift Card
- 3G Prepaid MiFi Mobile Hotspot – MiFi from alternative carrier – $125 Gift Card
As of today no new devices will be activated and the service will be slowly sunset until then. As Best Buy continues to reel from its retail losses and has decided to focus on mobile hardware with the increase in Best Buy Mobile locations, the need for an MVNO that competed directly with other carrier offerings may have been seen as redundant and unnecessary.
Best Buy previously operated the Connect MVNO as a way to offer customers mobile broadband service options that were not being readily offered at the time of its establishment two years ago, but now that carriers are increasing focus on mobile broadband with the advent of LTE, virtual operators such as Connect faced an uncertain position, especially as carriers such as Clear face their own issues with remaining solvent and viable in the face of the wider industry moving away from 3G and WiMax to LTE.