Virgin's yet another provider of Huawei modems, offering up the same E1762 Mobile Modem Optus supplied, albeit decked out in Virgin colours, for our testing.
Then again, Virgin Mobile is largely just a branding exercise for Optus, so that shouldn't be surprising. As with Optus, the Huawei interface for logging in is simple enough, with browser links to check usage patterns and of course plenty of Virgin branding.
Virgin's also the first of the major carriers to offer up a MiFi-style mobile router. At $199, with the ability to share mobile broadband out to multiple devices, it's an attractive option.
Other resellers are offering similar devices, but Virgin's attractive pricing makes it a decent option, and the company even claims it'll unlock it for use on other carriers for a flat fee.
Virgin's speeds were never remarkable, except in the ability to remain very solidly in the middle of the pack in just about all of our test environments.
What's interesting about that is that Virgin uses exactly the same modems and same network as Optus. Whether it's a customer base issue or some kind of configuration issue we can't reliably say, but from our figures it's a notable trend.
The other notable difference between Optus and Virgin comes when looking at the value of plan offerings. Put simply, Virgin's mobile broadband offerings are significantly better value than Optus. Prepaid customers aren't whacked with a 10MB hit each time they log in.
Data rates for postpaid customers aren't cut in half. The $39/6GB plan Virgin offers is similar to most other carrier plans if only the data offering, but the fact that there's no excess cost involved makes it decent value. Instead the next 250MB is provided at shaped speeds.
If that's exceeded, which feels unlikely at shaped speeds, there's a single penalty day taken out of the next month's coverage.
As broadband shaping goes, that's not too heavy a sacrifice to bear. Of note, Virgin Mobile won't sell to customers in the Northern Territory or Tasmania, leaving those areas still a pretty much Telstra-exclusive zone.
Virgin only missed out on a best-value-plan guernsey from Vodafone on speed issues, but those who can bundle with other Virgin products would be well served to consider them as a solid value but not high speed broadband offering