Three mifi wifi mywifi

I was given an advance trial of Three’s MiFi unit – a pocket sized wifi router that connects to the net via the 3 mobile network. So, like a 3G dongle only separate from a computer and able to share it’s signal with up to 5 other devices/people. Or like a phone with something like joikuspot but without the ability to make calls.

OK let’s try to simplify it a bit – the ability to connect up to 5 wifi-enabled devices to the net wherever you can get a signal.

I had a few problems. The first is 3’s network coverage. Now I’m not a 3 subscriber for my handset so I was a bit surprised to find that it is seemingly quite acceptable that you can’t get a signal inside many buildings. Certainly not my flat for example, so I was disappointed that on getting home, immediately after the demonstration that we’d had in Bar Soho, I wasn’t able to get a signal. So I put it away.

I was able to get a signal in the Sun offices when I was at TEDxTuttle and therefore able to show it off to my compadres with a glowing green connection light and all, but I was rather busy what with speaking and all and I didn’t have a laptop with me so I couldn’t test/show it off fully. I could connect with my phone, but there’s something a bit weird about using a 3G signal converted to wifi to connect my 3G phone to the net.

And I was able to get a signal on the train from Wimbledon to Epsom one day – and I could get my iPod Touch to connect to the router, but I couldn’t actually get anything to load in the browser or for Tweetdeck to connect either during the 18 minute journey.

So all round disappointing in practice. It’s still an exciting idea. Yes it would be cool on long train journeys or car journeys being able to connect a variety of devices: iPod Touch (maybe plus Spotify for the super-rich!), Nintendo DS or PSP as well as a laptop, wherever you go – or else to have a team meeting in the park – or even as a wireless dongle for single use in emergencies, especially pay as you go, but it looks like it needs some of the rough edges smoothed off first.

When I spoke to other people about it, the almost universal reaction was “Why does it have to be tied to one network?” We’re really feeling this lack of choice, we understand why it’s there, but really you should be able to just connect regardless – one person said it was like the old ATM system where you had to find a machine for your bank – exactly, that seems daft now and so does this, we want to buy access to the cloud, able to pick up the best available signal not be tied to a particular carrier.

7 thoughts on “Three mifi wifi mywifi”

  1. By way of counterpoint …

    I signed up for one of these on Sunday, and have been very pleased with it. As a former road warrior with a Vodafone pebble USB dongle, I really like:
    * no wires!
    * ease of setup (turn on mifi, connect laptop to wifi hotspot)
    * no mostly-broken laptop drivers (uses built-in wifi support)
    * ease of sharing a 3g connection between several computers (actively discouraged by most broadband dongles)

    The pricing seems pretty reasonable – 5gb for £15/month. The initial £70 cost of the mifi is recouped in under 3 months compared to the cost of a Vodafone dongle (which comes with 3gb; 2gb extra would cost £30/month).

    Obviously with all mobile broadband, the crux is whether or not you can get a decent signal. For me, I can get a usable signal inside my apartment, and that’s good enough for now. Thumbs up from me!

    1. Hi Andrew, glad to hear you got it working – I agree that it seems a good proposition, just that it didn’t work out for me within the few days I had it to trial.

      There’s something a bit weird about having something on trial anyway, you have to shoehorn it into your life and invent reasons for using something, rather than finding out what problems it solves naturally.

  2. Yes, I agree. We get better coverage when we are abroad than we do in the UK as roaming agreements that UK operators have with their overseas counterparts seem to allow us to connect to any service that is available. It should not be hard for similar agreements between operators to exist within a country. If the operators can’t come to some kind of arrangement I think it is time for the regulator to get involved.

    I can imagine that it is annoying in London but up here in Aberdeenshire there seem to be large areas that have reasonable reception with one operator and nothing with others. With public call boxes disappearing , it could be argued that mobile phone coverage is becoming more important as a public service.

    I think that your analogy with respect to ATM systems is very apt.

    All the best,

  3. Yes Bryan, it’s the fact that I’m in what most people would consider Central London and I can easily get an O2 signal for my handset, but the 3 device just blinked at me.

    I’d love to give better credit to the person who came up with the ATM analogy but my brain’s a blur – it was someone at TEDxTuttle

  4. I’ve just bought one of these to replace my fixed landline as everyone in the house uses mobiles for calls and I only use about 3gb of data a month checking emails, bank accounts and remotely accessing my work pc out of hours. This has a 5gb monthly limit for £15.

    I have to say that I’m really impressed, especially as unlike mobile broadband dongles which only allow for a one device connection I can use up to 5 devices in the house to connect to this wi-fi hotspot.

    I’m only getting about 1.25Mb speed as opposed to the 3.5Mb the fixed line gives but that is perfectly acceptable for the browsing that I do especially as it’s saving me about £23 a month.

    The only strange thing with it is the network signal light in my house is always red which I think means it hasn’t found a 3 network, yet it doesn’t seem to prevent me surfing the net at all.

    Obviously in most cases this will be a complimentary technology to fixed lines, but the potential development for this in the future could be quite exciting if the connection of 54mb could be up upgraded to n (300mbits), download limits increased from 5gb, and the mobile operators speed up their networks.

    In the meantime it will do quite nicely.

  5. I have a 3 account with a monthly 300 min+Skype etc, plus 2 PAYG phones, one of which I use for laptop broadband connection. I have been moaning at 3 for an age to offer a wifi router/repeater with the ability to insert a 3G/HSDPA sim CARD.

    I just received notification of the availability of this, and it looks as ‘close as it gets’.

    I am blessed with a good signal and after spending 3 weeks trying to get 2 laptops and 1 netbook to share a single mobile internet connection via a Windows ad-hoc network with limited to zero results, I have decided to order one of these.

    Provided it will work with any 3 PAYG SIM and NOT just the one issued with it, then it should answer my Internet needs of between 1 and 3GB a month shared between 3 users – perfect.

  6. Incidentally, as well as free Skype to Skype via the 3 network, I notice that other free VOIP providers work well via the system, some of whom offer very reasonable (free) calling out programmes to many counties.

    I live in the Colchester area, not far from the Suffolk border and the HSDPA down is 2.63 Mb and up is 358Kb, which is fine for my use, though sometimes a few more K upload would be useful!

    This is via the modem in the great little Skypephone S2 (pity about the keyboard).

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