Cell tower (Flickr user forklift)

Wireless service plans for families are great until you realize that getting out of your contract often yields a huge penalty in the form of early termination fees and other dirty tactics carrier pull to discourage switching.

As announced Friday, Virgin Mobile USA, a prepaid wireless carrier wholly owned by Sprint, just started offering contract-free LTE data sharing plans that permit families to cancel the service if need be without breaking the bank.

Two lines with four gigabytes of shared data will set you back $65. The pricier $90 plan includes three lines and eight gigabytes of data. The most expensive $115 plan gives your four lines and twelve gigabytes of shared LTE data.

After the data is used up, the carrier will throttle you back to sluggish 2G speeds. All shared LTE plans include unlimited talk and text.

The new plans are available on four specific 4G LTE smartphones pre-loaded with the Virgin Mobile data-sharing application, with more devices expected to be introduced by the end of February. Every plan will also come with a free Mobile Hotspot feature.

Virgin Mobile USA No Contract Family Share Data Plans 001

Again, these are month-to-month plans so you won’t be committing your should to Virgin Mobile for the next two years or so. And unlike T-Mobile’s shared data offering which allocates each family member a fixed amount of data, every family member on Virgin Mobile’s plans gets to use data from a shared bucket.

The carrier also announced single-line unlimited plans to Walmart customers. The $35/$45 per month plans give you 300/unlimited talk minutes and include unlimited text and unlimited data with a 2.5GB high-speed cap.

Virgin Mobile USA No Contract Family Single Line Plans 001

As for the new data-sharing family plans, they’ll be available through Walmart and at the Virgin Mobile website beginning Saturday, January 17.

Source: Virign Mobile