What is MiFi?

This incredibly handy device gives you access to fast, reliable broadband anywhere and at anytime.

 

MiFi is a fantastically simple way of ensuring you've always got instant access to the kind of top-quality internet you need to properly enjoy both your business and leisure time. This guide will teach you all you need to know about the device so you can decide whether or not it's right for you.

What is MiFi?

MiFi is a small, battery-powered device which provides a wireless internet connection multiple users can access on the move. 

How does MiFi work?

MiFi establishes a connection with the mobile data network of its provider to form what’s known as an ad-hoc network, where devices are able to communicate with each other directly rather than having to go through a centralized access point like a home broadband router first. 

Your ad-hoc network will expand as more of your friends and family connect up to it and is capable of supporting up to ten different devices simultaneously. Typically, MiFi devices have a range of up to about 30 feet but they’re always password protected so you don’t have to worry about anyone using your connection uninvited.  

What are the advantages of MiFi?

The biggest advantage of MiFi is its portability. It’s incredibly simple to set up and can be taken anywhere meaning you don’t have to rely on patchy, unsecure public wifi or hotspotting your smartphone which unless you’ve got unlimited data, can get expensive quite quickly.

4G coverage is excellent all across the UK and is still continuing to improve so providing you’re not in a really isolated rural area, you should generally receive fast, reliable speeds with MiFi. 

MiFi is a great way to ensure you’ve got readily available internet access in a country where data roaming charges apply, allowing you to easily navigate around a foreign city, keep in contact with those back home and your Instagram fully updated, just remember to enable roaming before you go!

Certain MiFi deals are available on very flexible 30-day contracts which are perfect for students or anyone else who’s living in shared accommodation and looking for short-term broadband. 

What are the disadvantages of MiFi?

Your MiFi will come preloaded with a certain amount of data and although some deals offer upwards of 50Mb, if you or any members of your household are very heavy streamers or gamers a more traditional unlimited broadband package will definitely serve you better. 

Some mobile providers do also charge an upfront cost for MiFi which is something to be aware of when you’re shopping around. 

What speeds can I achieve with MiFi? 

You can typically expect to achieve speeds of between 20Mb to 30Mb with MiFi depending on your location, type of tariff and how people are using the connection at one time. 

However, many central parts of major UK cities like London, Birmingham and Liverpool now have access to what’s known as LTE Advanced or 4G+, which uses two mobile frequencies instead of just one to offer much quicker mobile speeds. 

MiFi on 4G+ is theoretically capable of achieving speeds of up to 90Mb although it’s a lot more likely you’ll receive between 60Mb to 70Mb, which is still significant boost up from standard 4G speeds.

The availability of 4G+ is slowly continuing to grow meaning we should see these increased speeds in a lot more places across the UK soon. 

How do I set up MiFi?

All you need to do is switch your MiFi on, head into the wifi settings on the device you want to connect, search for your MiFi’s name, press connect and it’s completely ready to go. There’s no need to download any extra software, buy any additional equipment or wait hours for it to configure itself. 

What’s the battery life of MiFi?

MiFi should last you anywhere between 4 to 8 hours off a single charge depending on how much it’s being used. A USB charging cable should come included in the box and won’t take too long to get your MiFi back up to full power again. 

Which providers offer MiFi?

The major UK mobile providers EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three all offer MiFi contracts on a pay monthly and flexible pay-as-you-go basis. 

Also available are dongles, small devices shaped like memory sticks which you plug into your laptop’s USB slot to receive internet access. They effectively possess all of the same advantages as MiFi like portability and good, reliable speeds but can only get one device online at a time.

EE’s Car Wifi simply plugs into the 12V socket of your vehicle to offer everyone onboard instant connectivity. It can support up to ten devices simultaneously and as EE has the biggest and fastest 4G network in the UK, you should generally always be able to achieve excellent speeds. 

How much does MiFi cost?

All of the above mobile providers offer a good mix of 30-day, 12-month and 24-month contracts at a huge variety of different prices, starting from just under £10 and going all the way up to around £40, so it's definitely worth taking some time out to shop around.

It's not always the case that those packages offering the largest amounts of data are the most expensive. Some which might appear cheap at first glance could actually end up costing you more overall due to a high upfront cost or the pay monthly structure.

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