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The MiFi is right for you, IF ...
Total Views: 1171 - Total Replies: 2
May 17 2009, 4:53 pm - By EVDOalex

Its been my job to spend the last few days with the MiFi to do a review for the company I work for, and since I spend a lot of time on RV forums I've prepared this post that specifically addresses the RVer who will very likely be wondering if the MiFi is for them.

There is a LOT of buzz about the "MiFi". Its being sold by Verizon right now, and will be sold by Sprint in June, and like to be sold by AT&T and possibly other carriers, down the road.

What is it? its a tiny battery-powered hotspot that allows customers to have as many as five computers (or other wifi-enabled devices) to access the internet using cellular mobile broadband.

Many of you already have something like an "aircard" or a "USB modem" that attaches to ONE computer and gives it internet access. The MiFi is like that, except its a wifi hotspot that easily allows multiple computers the same internet access, for the same monthly fee. Nothing like it has ever been sold by a cellular carrier before.

Many of you have also bought "cellular routers" like the popular models from Cradlepoint, that allow you to share your aircard or USB modem's connectivity with multiple computers. The MiFi accomplishes the same thing, but the modem is built into (embedded) the MiFi so there is nothing attached making it much more portable.

In my opinion, the combination of Cradlepoint router and separate USB modem or expresscard is the better solution because the MiFi:
  • has NO antenna jack to easily allow for high-antenna antennas and direct-connect amp;
  • would require a more expensive 'wireless amplifier' to improve cellular signal;
  • is tied to ONE carrier and cannot be used with multiple carriers like a cradlepoint router can;
  • can only tether via USB cable. it has NO ethernet port;
  • cannot tether to one computer and STILL be a WiFi hotspot;
  • to allow for longer battery life, it only has about 30ft of WiFi range.
  • must be replaced when 4G or other future technology is viable.
Having said all that, there is one group of RVers that I think are great candidates for the Mifi:
  • you already own a wireless signal amplifier
  • all the equipment you want to get online already has WiFi capability
  • you only need a hotspot for use while traveling in an RV (not a home) OR
  • your need for a hotspot in a home doesn't require more than 30ft wifi range
  • you have NO need to tether a computer and still have a WiFi hotspot
  • one carrier at a time doesn't bother you
  • if you can answer Yes to the last six points, you should be happy with a MiFi
I hope that this post helps some RVers who are contemplating whether or not to get the MiFi.
May 18 2009, 1:40 am - Replied by: Technomadia

Thanks Alex..  that's been pretty much our thoughts on the things we've read. It's nice to have it verified by someone who has had some play time with it.   We've also been tickled that Verizon has been hyping it as a home internet replacement solution to serve the whole house. With a 5GB limit? Yeah, right. 

Cool concept tho, and it'll be great for folks who just want a portable hotspot with them when they travel or such. 

 - Cherie

Cherie and Chris / Technomads / www.technomadia.com
1961 GM 4106 - Vintage Bus
On the road since 2006 

May 19 2009, 4:14 am - Replied by: whatifound

I can see how it wouldn't work for us right away...we are apart a lot. He travels with his data card and I have mine that goes with me. If we used the MiFi we'd have to stay within 30 ft of each other at all times. That could endanger my marriage. ;-)
The other thing is that we used the Verison network before and had very poor coverage, whole states were left out for instance. Now on AT&T we have almost always got coverage, so check the maps and look at your likely routes...it is no fun to be stuck in a dead area.

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