A trial mobile broadband offering from Virgin Mobile under the FCC’s Lifeline program garnered lackluster adoption rates.
According to an ex parte filing by parent company Sprint, Virgin Mobile marketed a total of four offers for 1GB of data on Mi-Fi devices to its Assurance Wireless customers in Massachusetts and 38,000 customers in Ohio. A total of approximately 104,000 Massachusetts customers and 150,000 Ohio customers received an offer for Broadband Lifeline service from Virgin Mobile.
Virgin Mobile had planned for participation by 2,500 customers for each offer but said numbers were “in the hundreds” on any given month. Virgin Mobile also found that only a handful of participants used the full 1GB of access allowed through the plans.
So why the slow uptake?
While 70 percent of Assurance Wireless Lifeline subscribers report having no access to Internet, Sprint said that any kind of upfront cost, which ranged from $30 to $70 depending on the offer, was a “significant barrier” to adoption.
Sprint suggested that any kind of Lifeline offering for mobile broadband should include a subsidy for hardware. The carrier also recommended a robust consumer education effort would need to precede any similar offers in the future.