MiFi Mobile Hotspot - Without a Contract!
MiFi?! It sounds like WiFi, and although it's related,
it isn't the same thing. Mi-Fi is an
that is often referred to as a mobile hotspot, and I'm confident that
discussion below will answer all of your questions! I think
technology was a great idea, and although it took time for prepaid
to come to market, the wait was well worthwhile, and there are now
plethora of options!
I built this page when postpaid
providers were just starting
catch on; it really is amazing how far prepaid wireless data options
have come. Signing up for my free
ezine is the easiest way to make
that you hear when new prepaid Mi-Fi plans become available, or when
critical pricing changes happen.
is a mobile hotspot. The next logical question is: "What's a
mobile hotspot?" Hotspots
often referred to as Wi-Fi
hotspots. Follow the link to Prepaid
about this technology. Once you
technology, whether a hotspot at a local coffee shop, or using your
wireless router at home, add to that Prepaid
In other words, combine Wi-Fi with cellular technology, and
you've got yourself a mobile hotspot!
I also want to note that the term "MiFi" is actually a registered
trademark owned by Novatel Wireless (now Inseego Corp).
They've never revealed the origin of the term, however, it's
believed to short for "My Wi-Fi". In fact, a number of years
ago Novatel reached out to me via email to request that I stop using
the term. Due to the fact that this site gets so much traffic
to these pages, they felt that I was infringing on their trademark.
I kindly explained that I'm educating and promoting their
technology (and terminology), and assured them that this site doesn't
pose any threat. That seemed to appease them as I haven't
heard from them since!
does a mobile hotspot
take a cellular mobile broadband modem that you would normally plug
into your computer (ex. a USB modem), unplug it, and put
a battery inside so that you don't have to get power from your
Now take that standalone device and add Wi-Fi technology to
Now you can connect your computer to the mobile Mi-Fi hotspot
using your computer's Wi-Fi technology!
many computers can
a MiFi mobile broadband device?
five to 10 devices can connect to a Mi-Fi hotspot at the same time.
Smartphones with hotspot technology can also act as hotspots.
fact, it doesn't have to be a computer/laptop that you connect to your
hotspot. It can be any
Wi-Fi enabled device such as a cell phone, iPod, iPad, tablet,
Initially providers limited connectivity to no more than five
devices. Why five devices? Well, it's most likely
to do with
capacity I mean that the more devices you have connecting
to the same
Internet connection (in this case a MiFi device), the slower the
connection will become. For most people just surfing the Web
checking email, you won't likely notice any affect on speed when
five devices are connected. Could you connect to
you notice a difference in speed with 10 devices? Maybe,
five was the standard for a long time until 4G became the standard.
Also, keep in
wireless carriers also have to consider the cost impact. In
theory, you could have five people in a small office sharing the device
for Internet access. Before MiFi, they would have to buy five
modems and five plans, whereas now they only have to buy one device
and one plan! So if wireless carriers allowed 10 or 20 people
connect at the same time, not only would the user experience start to
deteriorate (i.e. slow connection speed), but they would lose a lot of
money! The reason for the shift to 8-10 simultaneous
connections now, is due to the fact that we have so many devices we now
carry around. Add a few friends you're hanging out with, and
you would quickly surpass the legacy five device limit.
I keep it in my bag?
A Mi-Fi device is just like a Wi-Fi router, and can be
accessed from ~32m (or 120ft) away.
because it has its own power source (i.e. battery) you can leave it in
your pocket or bag, or in the corner of your office and still access
it. If you're on the go, you'll probably find that you use
battery feature a lot. If you're using it all day though (ex.
a remote office or spending all day in a bookstore), you'll want to
plug it in. You can either plug it directly into the outlet
the wall, or you can plug it into a powered USB port on your computer.
Note, however, that many computers don't provide power to
plugged into USB unless the computer itself is plugged in.
bottom line is that you have options. Plug it into your
keep in in your pocket or bag running on the battery, or plug it into
the wall. Also keep in mind that the distance from which you
can access it will also depend on the size of the device and its
built-in antenna. Generally speaking, you want to try to keep
it within a few arms lengths in order to achieve maximum speeds.
also usually a sleep feature when
battery mode. What this means is that when you're not
the Internet for a period of time, the device will enter a sleep mode
to conserve battery power. In the MiFi devices I've seen, you
have to push the button on the mobile hotspot to wake it up.
can usually disable this feature, which can be inconvenient if the
device is not within arm's reach, but will mean that your battery will
die faster if you don't let it sleep when not in use. They
typically last four hours with continuous use,
40 hours on standby. You can also get an external battery
pack, and simply keep it plugged into there.
might be asking yourself whether or not your neighbors, or the guy next
to you in the bookstore can steal your connection.
is no! You have access to administration rights to the device
that allow you to specifically give permission to the devices that
are allowed to access your mobile hotspot. Just remember that
you need to set this up; by default, the network will be open for
anyone to access.