MiFi, the new kid on the block

Posted on by Mike Evans

By Michael Evans

MiFi2352_BlK_MiFi_TRANSLORESsm THIS MORNING the courier service here on Mykonos phoned to say my package had arrived from Expansys. It's the latest model of the Novatel Wireless MiFi personal router. This little device, less than the size of an iPhone, connects to a cellular data network and provides a local wifi network for up to five computers. And what an easy set up. Anyone who has ever adjusted a router for wireless access will run easily through the few steps necessary to get on line. 

Now, instead of having to plug a modem dongle into the sole USB port of my MacBook Air, I can simply connect to the network with the router sitting on the table or even safe in a bag. My first impression is that the speed of transmission is subjectively much better than when using the modem supplied by Vodafone Greece. Both the modem and the MiFi unit are rated at up to 7.2 Mbps but it would be overly optimistic to expect much over 2Mbps here in the Greek islands. I must run a series of Speednet tests and see what the data shows.

My new iPhone 3GS connects without a problem. It's a good tip to have different service providers for the phone and for the 3G modem since you get two bites of the cherry if you find yourself in a reception blackspot. This is another reason I am not using the phone for tethering (although I have got it working). A tethering option added to the iPhone contract (to take the monthly data allowance from 500MB to 5GB) costs just as much as having a separate data contract.

Naturally, with cellular data costs as expensive as they are, it is absolutely essential to protect the MiFi network with a key. For even greater security, it is probably a good idea to further restrict access to your own devices by entering specific MAC addresses. Most data contracts are limited to 5GB of data per month and, as we all know, that doesn't go far if you download video or, worse, buy the odd movie or TV Show. And, of course, if moving outside the home country don't switch on the MiFi because roaming costs are the stuff of nightmares.

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