So recently I was assisting a client over the phone with resolving your typical every day computer problem that we, computer technicians, face on a day-to-day basis and upon resolving their issue, the client, decided (like so many clients) to inquire about a little issue at home they are having and if I had any advice I might give her. We’ll call the client, Jenny. Jenny lives in the outskirts of Oklahoma’s farming wastelands and she was tired of using dial up for her home internet connection. So she told me that she had heard of a new type of wireless internet that Verizon was offerring called “MiFi” and wanted to know what I knew about it. Since I of course had no idea and thought more likely she was just adding her new spin on the more commonly known term “WiFi”. I quized her about it until I began hearing her speak of some device you put in your house that connects all your computers to a cellular signal from Verizon. Since this actually sounded like something REAL and not made up, I told Jenny I would research it for her and let her know what I found out.
As it turns out “MiFi” is a new way that Verizon and a few other cellular companies are using cellular broadband connections and are converting them into the more commonly used WiFi signal so that multiple standard WiFi devices can connect to the wireless signal which can be converted to connect those devices to the cellular networks. Verizon is doing this by the use of a device called the Novatel MiFi 2200 Mobile HotSpot device.
The device is small and can fit in your hand. You can use it 1 of 2 ways. Either plug it into a power outlet in a central location of your home or business at which point the device will automatically connect to Verizon services and will then broadcast a WiFi signal. Any laptop or mobile unit that you have at your location can connect to this WiFi connection and BOOM, you’re surfing the web at perfectly satisfactory speeds. This method of connection can also interconnect wireless devices on your home network together. For instance if you have a wireless laptop and a wireless printer, you would be able to use the MiFi device to print from your laptop to your wireless printer. The 2nd method of using the MiFi 2200 is to plug it directly into your laptop with a USB cable at which the device acts as a gateway connecting your laptop directly to the cellular network. The MiFi 2200 has to run off of its internal battery during this way of connecting which will only give you about 3-4 hours of internet use, before the internal battery dies. Of course this method is meant more for a CONNECT AS YOU GO kind of web surfing experience.
These devices are configurable, meaning you can change wireless security settings in order to customize or update your WiFi connection. Right now you will only be able to connect up to 5 devices simultaneously which may or may not seem constricting, but when you think of 5+ people surfing on a single cellular connection, I don’t think you would be enjoying your web experience all that much due to the relatively slower broadband connection that cellular connections offer. Here is the average connection speed for the MiFi 2200 (location and interference playing a factor of course)
1000 kilobits per sec download
500 kilobits per sec upload
This connection speed is about as fast as any home DSL connection. If you want one of these neat devices for your use then you have to purchase a monthly plan which are starting at about $40 dollars a month but, my 2 cents is to spent more for your MiFi connection and get more data to download monthly. You never want to go over your monthly limit which hurts badly when you have to view your monthly bill, plus you don’t want to have to constanly worry about how much surfing you can do before going over your limit.
I have used Verizon’s services as an example but I know there are other companies you can check out for these available new connections (Sprint for sure).