Millenicom Verizon Hotspot customers will start receiving e-mails tonight that they will wish was an April Fool’s joke. The monthly price of our beloved 20GB Hotspot Plan is going up from $69.99 to $89.99/mo for all customers, effective May 1st.
We’re actually relieved by this news. But then again, we’ve been privy to some of the details behind the scenes for a few weeks now, and for a while it looked as if things could have been a lot worse. And as late as this afternoon, there was hope there may have been a reprieve. But alas it’s official now.
First of all, blame Verizon. Not Millenicom.
In early March, Millenicom started to get complaints from some of their newer accounts that their speeds were painfully slow. After Millenicom tracked it down and talked with their Verizon business representative, they found out that all bulk accounts issued after mid-January were being subject to speed throttling after just 2GB of usage.
This new throttling policy wasn’t just being applied to Millenicom, but also to new lines added to other big corporate accounts Verizon services.
This obviously would not go over well for Millenicom customers – who wants to buy 20GB of LTE data and only get 2GB at the promised speeds? (The answer would be… no one!)
Dennis, CEO of Millenicom, knew this could be a killer for the service he offers.
The first thing he did was reassign all of his newer customers to older spare account numbers – so they would be ‘grandfathered in’ to receive their full 20GB at full LTE speeds. As a result, hardly any of his customers even knew there was a problem.
He then entered into negotiations with Verizon to come to new terms – which he’s been in right up until this afternoon.
The New Price
This will apply to all existing customers on Verizon plans – current and new ones. The downside of being on a “no contract” service is that there is no contract that will let us existing customers be grandfathered in. This is Verizon increasing their cost to Millenicom to provide this service to us.
The new price will be effective May 1st, so for April you’ll still only be billed the old $69.99 rate and you’ll have 30-days to decide if you want to proceed at the new rates.
The new price will also apply to the grandfathered in older 3G only accounts that were previously $59.99 – making the increase in cost a whopping 50%.
But the changes don’t stop there, unfortunately. Read On.
Introducing: A Hard Cap
The cap is now a hard 20GB cap.
No more soft limits. No more going slightly over and not worrying about immediate suspension or overage charges.
And, of course, that also means no more worrying about getting your account terminated for going over your limit too many times.
As a new feature, if you do want additional data for the month – you’ll have the option to pay $89.99 for another 20GB if you need it. There’s no longer the need to buy a second account, wait for it to arrive and then manage two devices. Previously, to buy that second bucket of data last minute – it would have cost you over $200 in device & activation fees and several days of waiting.
Now you can just authorize the charge when you need it, and voila – you’re back online. Don’t specifically authorize the charge, then you just wait until the next month rolls over.
We look at this as a plus. Because there are some months that we’d be happy to pay for another bucket of data if we’re somewhere with no other option and a lot of work to get done.
Of course, we’re used to buying overage bandwidth by the GB from most carriers, so this will not seem like a fair balance if we just need a little extra. Especially since the data will expire at the end of the month, so if you don’t use it all – you loose it.
We recommend all Millenicom customers have a back-up source of data to snag a cheaper GB or two at the end of the month if needed.
We keep an AT&T Mobile Share plan with a bucket of 10GB of hotspottable data on our iPhones, and then pay $15/GB for overages. Incidentally, we have our AT&T month end on the 24th, so we always have fresh new data ready for us in those last few days of each month when we run up against our 20GB Millenicom limit. If we need more than 6GB of extra data, the Millenicom overage option is now seeming like a sweet deal.
You can also choose to keep an unactivated second Millenicom device around, and just activate it when needed. They can then pro-rate the month and charge a $19.99 re-activation fee. That could work out much cheaper for just a few days of data if needed.
New Account Management Tools
Because the new hard cap being imposed by Verizon, Millenicom is spending the next weeks implementing systems to provide:
- Near real time usage reports that you can check online.
- E-mail reminders each time you use 5GB of data, so you’re kept in the loop.
- Automatically freezing your account when you reach 20GB – the charge for an additional $89.99 will be completely opt-in and only at your authorization.
Keep it in Perspective
Yup. Hearing something will cost more is never fun news, especially a 28% increase. And we know many of you out there won’t be happy about it, and it may even cause some to reconsider their internet needs.
But please keep it in perspective (and don’t shoot the messenger!)
Yes, a 28% increase is steep. But when compared to other mobility costs that can fluctuate – such as fuel prices, insurance or always rising campground fees – $20 really is a drop in the bucket for a service that enables our life of mobility. We’ll compensate with one less box of wine if we need to.
And it’s still a lot cheaper than going direct with Verizon if you need this volume of mobile data … which would cost $130/month plus taxes and fees for a 20GB/month hotspot plan. Or to put it another way, the same $90 a month would only buy you about 10GB of data direct with Verizon, once you factor in those taxes & fees. Not to mention a 2-year contract.
And paying Millenicom $179.98 for 40GB of data is a way better deal than $320+ direct with Verizon.
We’re just thrilled we’re not writing today sharing the news of the discontinuation of this plan we love so much that enables so many of us to roam and keep connected.
Our summation: The Millenicom Verizon Hotspot Plan is no longer a super awesome deal.. it’s just an awesome deal.
Our hats off to you Dennis and the rest of the Millenicom staff … thank you for going to bat for all of us mobile internet seekers. We don’t envy the customer support load and changes you’re having to go through now to adjust to these new terms and protect your customers.
T-Mobile Foolishness Too
To make matters trickier for our friends at Millenicom, they also just received word that T-Mobile is backing out of extending their free 200MB of LTE data to those who purchased the iPad deal before February 14. Keep in mind, the original deal was that after the initial free data period ended in March, you could purchase 500MB of LTE data for $19.99/month (or $10 if you have the above mentioned hotspot plan) or 6.5GB for $59.99/month. So really, this announcement just returns the deal back to what was originally offered.
T-Mobile seems to be shaking up a lot of their business deals this week (canceling all corporate discounts today too!), and it looks like Millenicom got caught in the middle of it.
You can also stop by any T-Mobile store, and direct from T-Mobile you should still be able to get the fully free 200MB plan by obtaining one of their iPad SIMs. They are just no longer letting anyone else be the middleman.
Our Mobile Internet Resource Center
Interested in topics about Mobile Internet? We’ve created a lot of content, and keep links to it all on our Mobile Internet Resource Center page. Keep in the know about these sorts of topics and explore all our of free articles, videos and learn more about our book – The Mobile Internet Handbook.
- What’s the best mobile internet? – We directly compare campground WiFi, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile at the same location.
- The Millenicom Verizon Hotspot Plan Survival Guide – The core of our mobile connectivity is this plan from reseller Millenicom (will be updated soon to reflect the above changes.)
- Full review of the Pantech MHS291L (the device shipping from Millenicom as of January 2014)
Disclosure: We are not affiliated with Millenicom, we’re just customers ourselves. We don’t get any kickbacks if you sign-up with them, and we are not compensated for sharing this information. We share because we depend on technology in our full time travels, and we enjoy sharing what we’ve learned. It’s our gift.
So please, this is not the Millenicom complaint department, we’re just the messenger. We know some are upset, but no negative comments .. thanks.