Verizon's just expanded its range of USB mobile broadband dongles--this new one is designed with the global traveler in mind. And while that may sound all nice and helpful, it's not necessarily. The annual fees tot up to $1,560.
The dongle itself is pretty sound--even if its engineering is of the totally unimaginative we'll cram it into a plain black box-variety. For the U.S. the USB1000 stick has standard EV-Do Rev.A connectivity, and there's a triband HSPA chipset in there for when you're trotting around the planet. That should let you connect pretty much everywhere for some medium to fast mobile broadband. It's not even too expensive, running to $149 (after a rebate) when bought on contract.
But it's that contract that's the problem. The lowest tariff gives you 5GB of data per month when in the U.S. and Canada, and works in 31 countries, via Verizon-affiliated local carriers. But it costs you a whopping $129.99 per month, which tots up to $1,559.88 per year. And that's for just 100MB of data every month too--going over that will cost you $0.005/KB, as Verizon puts it, or $5 per MB as we like to count it. Of course if you're a heavy data user then you can pay $219.99 per month ($2,639.88 per annum!) for a very generous jump in the data allowance to 200MB per month. 200MB, need we remind you, is about 30 normal-sized MP3 tracks, or a third of a medium-quality MP4 movie.
May we suggest that Verizon is merely inventing ways to keep its paws on your global roaming data spend, while appearing to offer you a good product? We might. Because if you're a big traveler, then there are better solutions: Local service providers. Mobile broadband is everywhere now, and many places let you buy a pre-pay data stick. You can even buy a single HSPA stick, and unlock it so it works with other providers and merely shell out for a region-specific SIM card when you get to your destination. You're almost guaranteed to get a better bang for your buck.