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I have long dreamed of a router that uses a 3G connection and creates a WiFi hotspot where I need one.  It would eliminate the need for paying for Internet connectivity in hotels and make it easy to share a 3G connection.  The key to make […]

Nvtl_mifi

I have long dreamed of a router that uses a 3G connection and creates a WiFi hotspot where I need one.  It would eliminate the need for paying for Internet connectivity in hotels and make it easy to share a 3G connection.  The key to make this palatable would be a size small enough to make it very easy to use.

We’ve just received word from Novatel Wireless that they are introducing a product in the first quarter of 2009 that is just such a device.  The MiFi is a router the size of a credit card that makes it a one-click proposition to share a 3G connection via WiFi.  It is battery operated and Novatel states is gets over 40 hours on standby and up to four hours of active usage.  The portable nature of this tiny router makes it possible to leverage connectivity in a vehicle on trips.  No word on pricing from Novatel but they intend to distribute the MiFi via enterprise and retail channels through partners.  Novatel Wireless is the maker of many of the 3G modems in use by carriers such as Verizon, Sprint and others.  Press release after the jump.

SAN DIEGO – Dec. 9, 2008 – Novatel Wireless Inc., (Nasdaq:NVTL), today unveiled MiFi, an unprecedented line of Intelligent Mobile Hotspots. Together with a rich applications environment for enterprises and consumers, MiFi drives a new ecosystem of broadband connectivity. Unlike existing router solutions that require an external broadband modem and serve only to provide connectivity, Novatel’s unprecedented MiFi line creates a personal cloud of high-speed Internet connectivity that can be easily shared between multiple users and Wi-Fi devices such as laptops, cameras, gaming devices and multimedia players. Novatel’s MiFi products serve as an intelligent, open platform capable of hosting advanced software applications and flexible enough to address the continued evolution of mobile broadband.
“With the pocket-sized MiFi device, Novatel Wireless has invented a new category of mobile broadband solutions, pushing the envelope in design and performance and ushering in the next era of the mobile broadband experience.” said Peter Leparulo, chairman and CEO of Novatel Wireless. “Our carrier partners will now be able to provide new wireless solutions and bundles for consumer and enterprise users.  This will contribute to the continued growth of the addressable broadband market and create a unique opportunity for carriers to generate additional revenue per user through the deployment of innovative value-add applications and services.”

Next Generation in Mobile Broadband Connectivity
MiFi represents the industry’s first Intelligent Mobile Hotspot, a new category of mobile broadband that lets users put their entire world of content, services and connectivity in their pocket.    Featuring an internal battery providing over forty hours standby and up to four hours of active use on a single charge, the MiFi product line enables users to access high-speed Internet from anywhere there is a cellular connection, including moving vehicles where multiple passengers may need internet access.

Rich Applications Environment
Novatel’s MiFi product line will offer enterprises, SMB and SOHO users a unique solution to secure, control and manage wireless connections. Various MiFi configurations support applications such as Auto VPN, Automatic syncing of email and optional remote management capabilities for the enterprise IT manager. Novatel’s MiFi product line offers a robust platform capable of hosting third party applications that extend the reach and control of the enterprise when dealing with remote mobile assets.

With MiFi, consumers can consolidate and personalize their Internet services through a convenient landing page whether they are at home, in the car or on the go.  For the Operator, the MiFi landing page provides a window to the user to offer additional content and services.  MiFi will continue to evolve in order to support applications and services for individuals and families leading a mobile lifestyle.

Unprecedented Ease of Use
Novatel has applied its expertise in human interface engineering to make MiFi the easiest to use broadband device ever.  Users are one-click away from their personalized content and services, with no need for installing host applications or hardware drivers as part of the installation process.

Pricing and Availability
The MiFi line of Intelligent Mobile Hotspots will be commercially available in Q109 through a variety of Novatel Wireless’s global tier-one operator customers and retail channels.

  1. Why dream, just get a good Windows Mobile phone and install WMWifiRouter and you’re good to go with a wifi-to-3g router that you always carry with you anyway.

    Of course that requires a phone that isn’t completely gelded by the provider, ie it has to have internet sharing in it.

    http://www.wmwifirouter.com/

    Works like a charm.

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  2. cr0ft, we’ve shared the excellent wmwifirouter app in the past, not to mention a similar offering from Joiku. While they’re both great solutions if you have a 3G phone, the MiFi product is completely different in that it *provides* the 3G signal as well as the WiFi signal to share the 3G. This makes it a compelling product for folks that don’t have a 3G phone or 3G adapter card.

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  3. Apologies — I must have my dense day today. It really *provides* the 3G signal… out of thin air?? Are you saying you can get a 3G signal at places where there isn’t one, and if yes, I assume it then takes a broadband connection and “turns” it into 3G?

    If so, I didn’t read that in the blog post or press release. It just says “the MiFi product line enables users to access high-speed Internet from anywhere there is a cellular connection.”

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  4. Oliver, that’s how I read the third sentence of the release:

    “Unlike existing router solutions that require an external broadband modem and serve only to provide connectivity, Novatel’s unprecedented MiFi line creates a personal cloud of high-speed Internet connectivity that can be easily shared between multiple users and Wi-Fi devices such as laptops, cameras, gaming devices and multimedia players”

    If it doesn’t require an external broadband modem, I presume the unit itself is providing the 3G and the WiFi, which makes it different than other products on the market.

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  5. Kevin, what I got from that tidbit was that you insert a SIM card into the router… there’s no external PC Card, Express Card or USB modem to plug in like most existing 3G routers.

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  6. I still don´t see why you would use this instead of a phone? You´re gonna have a separate contract just for this device?
    Unless I´m missing something big here, there are at least two different S60 applications that accomplishes the same thing that this device does.
    And even if you don´t have a 3G phone, wouldn´t it be smarter to buy a cheap one, rather than this?

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  7. Micke, the benefit of a device like this is that the connection can be shared with other people and devices, since it serves as a WiFi router. Some folks on other sites have asked why not connect your phone to your laptop, and use the laptop as the router. The plus to the device is that you don’t need to carry a laptop, won’t use up a laptop battery, and the device can act as a wifi router to things like PDA’s, iPod Touches, and other small devices that you may take with you – without a laptop in tow.

    D.

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  8. Huh. Doesn’t this look kind of like an iPhone? I wonder if you could just clip this onto your existing phone? Then if it had Wifi it could use this device to access the net instead of its internal 3G. And your other devices could too… so its kind of a 3G modem that when detached from the phone becomes a 3G router with a WLAN interface for all your devices… Is there something here that you can turn into a future product?

    Or should cell providers just get their shit together and sell us a single dataplan for two devices or let us use our phones for internet access via tethering, or …

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  9. Huh. Doesn’t this look kind of like an iPhone? I wonder if you could just clip this onto your existing phone? Then if it had Wifi it could use this device to access the net instead of its internal 3G. And your other devices could too… so its kind of a 3G modem that when detached from the phone becomes a 3G router with a WLAN interface for all your devices… Is there something here that you can turn into a future product?

    Or should cell providers just get their shit together and sell us a single dataplan for two devices or let us use our phones for internet access via tethering, or …

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  10. Thanks David, but that just proves that I´m not missing something. Like I said, there are at least two different S60 applications that do the same thing. They turn your phone into a Wifi router. Any device can use it, and you can even add encryption. I know of http://www.joikuspot.com/ and http://www.walkinghotspot.com/ There may be more.

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