I’ve mentioned MiFi a couple of times already in our blog and for good reason too. These matchbox sized devices become your best friend if you’re constantly out of the office like I am. With their ability to connect anything which uses WiFi to the Internet. They are fast making USB dongles a thing of the past as there’s no driver or software to install. All you have to do is switch it on, connect to the Internet and voila!
So what about ditching your best friend for a brand new one – the Huawei E5220 or E5151?
Both the E5220 and the E5151 gives you a portable WiFi hotspot allowing you to connect to one network and attach up to 10 devices.
A few examples of using these MiFi devices
- Single user with multiple devices - laptop, tablet, gaming device
- Multiple business users - connecting multiple laptops, tablets, mobile phones such as employees at an exhibition stand or temporary office
- Multiple office users – connecting laptops, tablets, mobile phones at a single place of work
The E5151 additionally allows you to connect a computer or other device via an Ethernet cable and also allows WiFi uplink should you need this as an extension to an existing network.
What do they look like?
|Huawei E5220||Huawei E5151|
Supports up to 10 devices, Supports 3G up to 21mbps download 5.76 upload
Supports up to 10 devices, Supports 3G up to 21mbps download 5.76 upload, Ethernet, Wi-fi uplink connection
Excellent simple connection with a slim and sleek design
Excellent simple connection, robust and modern design with advanced connection options
The Huawei MiFi devices are easy to use. Just insert a live data-enabled SIM card and the device will automatically configure your mobile network. You also get simple graphics showing you signal strength, WiFi output, battery and any received SMS messages.
What about security?
You can use the existing WiFi security options. Should you need to change these or want to look further into your data usage you can enter the management site when you are connected.
Huawei E5220 – http://192.168.1.1 default login admin/admin as username/password
Huawei E5151 – http://192.168.8.1 default login admin/admin as username/password
This will initially give you a dashboard view of your connection showing the current network signal strength, battery, internet connection etc along with usage stats such as data amounts sent or received.
It will also show how many devices are currently connected to your MiFi (e.g. 1/10).
Ofcom have announced the winners in the 4G mobile spectrum auction.
After more than 50 rounds of bidding, Vodafone Ltd, Telefónica UK Ltd, Everything Everywhere Ltd, Hutchison 3G UK Ltd and Niche Spectrum Ventures Ltd (a subsidiary of BT Group plc) have all won spectrum. This is suitable for rolling out new superfast mobile broadband services to consumers and to small and large businesses across the UK.
So what does this mean for you?
Telefonica UK (O2) and Vodafone UK have already begun their joint project to share network infrastructure providing a more robust GSM and 3G service providing 98% population coverage for voice and data for 2015.
Obtaining a license from the Ofcom auction was the next step. The infrastructure improvements have been designed as a platform for 4G. Vodafone and O2 can start rolling out 4G services to consumers which is expected in spring or early summer 2013.
Obviously this will be great news if your handset is 4G but will also benefit other smartphone or tablet users. 4G is not necessarily the Kevin Bacon experience of downloading entire movies whilst on a park bench but more the intention is to provide the brunt of the data services. This alleviates the burden on the presently taxed 2G and 3G networks which will improve our general speeds all round and ensure better GSM voice service (results in less dropped calls).
A further stage of the auction will be the assignment of specific locations for the spectrum wins. UK networks will be jostling to make the lower bandwidths in urban areas are used for better in-building coverage whilst relying on the 2.6 GHz spectrum to provide the greater general area coverage.
View the full Ofcom story here.
You’ll notice from my previous posts that I’m a keen MiFi user, so I was really excited when I received a package from Infinity last week. Not quite on par with the launch of a new iPad but still eager to tear open my mail and play with the new Infinity Wireless IW-033 MiFi device I’d been sent.
What initially caught my eye was the fast connection speed. Infinity claim up to 21mbps depending on coverage and network and after a few short tests I can tell you they’re not fibbing. What also impressed me was the number of users you can connect to the device at once. On previous MiFi models you could only connect up to eight devices at any one time, however the IW-033 lets you to share the connection with up to ten.
When fully charged the IW-033 provides up to one hundred and fifty hours standby and five hours of WiFi use. As a comparison the most popular device on the market, the MiFi E585, gives you four hours use once fully charged.
A massive plus for me with the IW-033 is that there’s no software to install on your connecting device, whether that’s a tablet, laptop or smartphone - It’s literally plug and play. For this reason it’s a great replacement for USB dongles, especially when put to use as a pool device in an office and IT will be happy because it will save them a whole heap of setup time .
Although it doesn’t have a screen I found all the administration options like setting up security, easy to control through a simple web interface accessible via a browser. You can ensure no unauthorised connections are made to the device from here.
Things to look out for
As with any mobile device connecting to the Internet, make sure you check your data bundle on your subscription before you start using it. With up to ten devices all drawing in data from a single SIM card you could quickly use a lot of data in a short space of time.
The IW-033 does give you a little helping hand as the web interface includes a data usage monitor so you’ll always know how much data you’re using.
It should be noted that you won’t always get the top speed of 21mbps. This is the highest speed it can handle but as the connection is using the mobile network your maximum speed will depend upon your location, signal strength and network congestion.
This is a sleek, powerful little device that will no doubt be a popular model. MiFi devices like these are perfect if you’ve bought a WiFi only iPad, or would like to use your netbook on the go without connecting a bulky USB modem.
I found network speeds to be good, setup to be a doddle and the five hours of battery life easily covered my daily commute and lunch break browsing.
You’re on the train and your boss rings up to say she wants that report you were planning to send her tomorrow, right now. No problem. Tether your laptop to your mobile phone and off you go.
Okay there’s nothing new here, however with the rise of smartphones the term ‘Tethering’ has sneaked back into mobile conversations. Outputting to one or more devices at once has also introduced the concept of your own ‘personal WiFi hotspot’ - so now your colleagues on the train can share your connection.
There are a number of devices and smartphones out there but I wanted to test whether there were any significant speed differences between them.
I used four popular tethering devices and to make the test fair I used the same Sim card and network (Vodafone 3G) and ran the test indoors in the same location on the same day. Each of the devices I was testing has different data speed capabilities but it should be noted that the greatest impact on available speed comes from network coverage where you are.
max speed capable - 21 mbps
max speed capable - 7.2 mbps
max speed capable - 7.2 mbps
HTC Wildfire S (Android phone)
max speed capable - 7.2 mbps
All the speeds shown above are more than adequate for browsing and sending or receiving email from a tethered laptop or tablet. In areas of better coverage the difference in the hardware max speeds of each device could alter overall data speeds.
Although it wasn’t part of the test line up it’s worth noting that the iPhone 4s is capable of download speeds of up to 14 mbps download.
They’re all easy to setup and using WiFi means you can connect a variety of devices to your personal hotspot (e.g. laptop, tablet or other devices such as PSP/DS) without carrying an additional device or paying for another additional Sim connection.
The most obvious downside to using a phone as a tethered modem is battery performance. If you’re indoors you can put it on charge but if you’re out and about you’ll be playing hunt the charge point pretty quickly.
Using the data connection for tethering could mean other data services are suspended, for example your BlackBerry email.
It’s often not possible to see which device or application is using the data. So if you’re sharing your connection with multiple users or devices you won’t always be able to see who used up your allowance.
Making sure only you or the people you want to share with know your WiFi password is critical. Don’t accept default passwords if they’re obviously unsecure (e.g. wildfire S default is 1234567890) because anyone connecting to your WiFi hotspot could quickly consume your data bundle and lumber you with unexpected excess data charges.
It’s not always possible to determine who’s connected which device to your personal hotspot, so it’s up to you to keep your password secure and shared with trusted devices and users.
Regardless of what device you use I would always recommend you are careful if you’re using a smartphone as a WiFi hotspot. Make sure you know the security pass, change the default password if you can and keep it safe from unauthorised use.
I know I’ve written about it before but if you need WiFi on the move on a regular basis, the ZTE Mifi is the best option. It’s capable of greater speeds than a standard smartphone and using it won’t impact on your smartphones battery. It’s the size of a small matchbook and eminently portable – power up when you need it and it goes in to sleep mode to conserve power when you don’t.
The Mifi device is also easiest to keep as a pool device if you need to share it with others.
If you’re an Intercity customer you might want to look at this knowledgebase article on how to set up tethering for your device.