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I need to access the Web via my Android phone's cell radio only occasionally. Therefore, I am not interested in a monthly plan (and certainly not in a 2-year minimum contract).

I thought that finding a prepaid web access card (or plan) for Android phones would be as easy as finding one for voice but it turns out way more difficult than I had hoped for:

What are my options really as far as minimizing the cost of occasional web access via my Android phone, legally and reliably ?

At this point, I am flexible as to whether the solution is for CDMA or GSM (it is still much less expensive to buy a new phone than to sign for a 2-year contract)

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

You can get the LG Optimus V from Virgin Mobil for $150 (total) and pay $25/month for unlimited data and texts and 300 minutes/month of talk time. There are three drawbacks. (1) The screen is a bit small. (2) The internal memory is only about 200MB, so you are limited as the number of apps you can have (even moving apps to the SD card). (3) Virgin Mobile uses the Sprint network which seems to be more limited than say Verizon.

Later this month (I think) Virgin Mobile will also off the Motorola Triumph with 2GB internal memory and a larger screen and a faster processor and a front facing camera (which the Optimus doesn't have, so maybe that's four drawbacks). I plan to switch to the new phone as soon as I can.

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Thanks for bringing Virgin's unlimited data plan to my attention. Are you sure it wasn't abandoned in January 2011? – ef2011 Jul 3 '11 at 20:20
I'm not sure of anything. However, their website says "unlimited messaging, email, data, and web on all plans with talk included." – Mark Jul 3 '11 at 20:36
Thanks. Indeed, this is what their website says and it appears that things change so quickly in this field that the article from Jan 2011 is no longer relevant. BTW, I noticed that they mention Speech To Text only, without any reference to Text to Speech. Is it possible that an Android 2.2 phone will not come with TTS? – ef2011 Jul 4 '11 at 14:36

AFAIK the carriers are simply not interested in doing anything except forcing people with smartphones to pay unreasonable amounts for data plans.

One thing you could do is get Verizon's Prepaid Mobile Broadband in the "hotspot" form. You can plug it in wherever and it effectively rebroadcasts the cell network as a Wi-Fi network. You can connect your phone to that Wi-Fi. It's not perfect, since it's not portable to anywhere without a power outlet (AFAIK it can't use batteries), but perhaps better than nothing.

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Thanks to your suggestion I learned about the Intelligent Mobile Hotspot (with a rechargeable battery) and the Mobile Broadband Built-in Laptops. Also, I just learned about something called Verizon Unleashed. Do you happen to know whether it works with Android phones? – ef2011 Jul 3 '11 at 20:16
@ef2011 Unfortunately it looks like it only works with 3 feature phones. – Matthew Read Jul 3 '11 at 20:35

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