Wi-Fi is great at home and in the office at providing mobile Internet access around the premises. However, MiFi makes a lot of sense for the traveler who needs mobile Internet access on multiple devices at the same time. Here, Knowledge Center mobile and wireless analyst J. Gerry Purdy explains what MiFi is and how it works to provide simultaneous Internet access for multiple notebook PCs or mobile devices.
There's a really cool solution to getting
Internet access while traveling called MiFi (pronounced "My-Fi"). It
is a small device that is basically two wireless components in one package: a
wide area wireless cellular modem and a Wi-Fi access point. Verizon Wireless
provided me with a MiFi unit to test a few weeks ago, and I finally had a trip
scheduled in which I could try it out.
My wife and I attended my son Jason's wedding
in Maine (held at the beautiful Retreat at French's Point) and
stayed in the Belfast Bay Inn, a
classy bed and breakfast right in the heart of Belfast, Maine. I set up our three notebook PCs: my Frost &
Sullivan system, my personal system and my wife Alicia's system.
In order to get the MiFi
working, it has to be provisioned by Verizon Wireless (so it was a valid unit
on the network) and then activated (my account was established with Verizon
Wireless PR). With the help of Brenda Rainey in Verizon Wireless PR, the unit
got provisioned to work and then activated as a demo unit.
Normally, the MiFi unit would
require a two-year commitment at $40 for 250MB or $60 per month for 5GB of use.
Obviously, since we carry around three notebook PCs, we would have normally had
to sign up for three wide area wireless modem accounts: one for each notebook
PC or three times $40 to $60 per month (or $120 to $180 per month).
To be sure, many hotels provide
Wi-Fi but in many cases they charge anywhere from $9.95 to $19.95 for 24 hours
of access. Some hotels-most notably Marriott Courtyard and similar mid-tier
hotels that cater to the business traveler-provide free Wi-Fi access. But most
of the time (independent of whether you purchased Wi-Fi access or not) the
hotel requires you to input your hotel room number and then will only allow one
computer to have access to that account number at one time.
J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D., is Principal Analyst of Mobile & Wireless at MobileTrax LLC. Dr. Purdy has been covering mobile, wireless, cloud & enterprise for the past 20+ years. He writes analysis and recommendations each week in an easy-to-read manner that helps people better understand important technology issues and assist them in making better technology purchasing decisions.
Disclosure Statement: From time to time, I may have a direct or indirect equity position in a company that is mentioned in a column. If that situation happens, then I'll disclose it at that time.