Verizon MiFi – the wonders of a cellular router

Last week, Wednesday, November 11 to be precise, I bought a Novatel cellular WiFi router from Verizon Wireless which Verizon calls the MiFi. No, I’m not giving up my Android phone, I’m adding coverage and flexibility. Yes, my phone can act as a cellular WiFi router but it’s not really designed to drive both the cellular radio and the WiFi radio (the base of the phone heats up quite a bit after a while).

The MiFi lets me connect up to 5 devices and supports both 802.11b and 802.11g (no, it doesn’t support 802.11n). You access the Internet via Verizon’s cellular network and I’ve gotten very respectable speeds — in excess of 2Mbps upload and 512Kbps download in some very limited tests. Verizon has 3 plans available, none of which provides unlimited data so I opted for the $60/month 5GB/month plan since I don’t plan to use in excess of 150MB each and every day of the month.

Setup and operation is a snap! Insert the battery, turn it on and connect via WPA-TKIP (the passkey is printed on the bottom of the MiFi). It supports MAC filtering, VPN, TKIP and AES as well as WEP and can function as an open access point (no security) via a web interface that also tells you how many bytes you’ve sent and received in total (resettable by the user) and since powering on.

Is it worth it? You’ll have to judge for yourself. To me it is. Verizon offers it without contract as well as on a 1-year and a 2-year contract. I can use it in my car, at hotels, at my work when I want to keep my traffic off the work net, really, anywhere Verizon gets a signal (which is nearly everywhere — there’s a map for that)

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