You may have seen the term “MiFi” but had no clue what it meant other than it was probably some sort of mobile wireless Internet networking. That essentially is correct, however the word isn’t indicative of any standard, or at least not yet.
A MiFi is a line of compact wireless routers made by Novatel Wireless, meaning MiFi is an actual product. Their function is to act as a Wi-Fi hotspots for mobile use. What makes it mobile is the ability to do what’s called “backconnecting” to a cellular data network. MiFi devices reportedly have a wireless range of up to about 30 feet.
MiFi devices were introduced in 2009 and the only time you ever seen them (at least in the USA) are when they’re wireless carrier-branded. For example, Virgin Mobile just released one for $150.
What’s the point of MiFi?
Three big points:
- The devices are tiny, as in credit card-sized, meaning they can go anywhere you go.
- Since it is a router, it is its own portable mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, shareable with up to 5 other people.
- Connects up anything that can connect wirelessly, be it laptop or smartphone.
- Grabs its signal from anywhere that your cell phone can.
Yes, it is slower compared to a normal wireless router, however the portability and share-ability are what really sell these things. It also could be argued that they’re in fact more secure compared to using open wi-fi because you’re in control of the router.
Verizon also has MiFi, and you can read a very detailed review of what it can do here. Bear in mind this is not future technology. It’s here. Right now.
Some of you may be saying, “COOL! Can I dump my ISP now?” Not so fast. There are bandwidth limitations, and if you used a desktop or laptop with this type of connectivity, you’ll run into overage charges faster than you can say, “What the..?” In addition it will probably cost you more than your existing ISP does now month-to-month.
If considering a MiFi device, the best advice I can give is this: Read the fine print, and read it carefully. Know exactly what you’re going to spend for access and what bandwidth allowances per month you have.