WiFi is everywhere in the modern world, even in the less developed parts of it, being able to get an internet connection just about anywhere today is something we often take for granted. Whether it be our televisions, personal computers or mobile phones, we are all used to tapping into a wireless connection on demand. So what is WiFi and the latest development, mobile WiFi?
WiFi – What is it and How Does it Work?
WiFi was invented by AT and T Corporation and NCR Corporation in 1991. Contrary to popular belief WiFi is not short for wireless fidelity, in fact it really has no meaning at all that most could understand. WiFi is a trademark for IEEE 802.11, the technical specifications required to implement a wireless local area network. WiFi is a leading form of wireless networking technology. It utilizes radio waves to achieve wireless internet connections on a wide range of devices.
Benefits of WiFi and MiFi
Convenience is simply the biggest benefit of WiFi and MiFi, we’ll get to MiFi in a bit. You can get a wireless connection almost anywhere in the developed world and in much of the less developed parts of it. This on the go use of WiFi makes it versatile and mobile. The connection might not always be reliable or high-speed but the connection is nearly always present.
WiFi hotspots are locations where a wireless connection to the internet can be acquired. Often for public use, but sometimes for private use as well. Hotspots can be found all over the place: coffee shops, hotels, airports and libraries to name a few. All that is needed to create a hotspot is a router linked to an internet service provider. If you ever wondered exactly why you can find an internet connection just about anywhere on your smartphone it’s because of a nearby router.
MiFi is short for mobile WiFi, simple enough right? A mobile wireless device can come in several forms: handheld devices, USB flash drives and SIM cards. All of these forms do the same thing, set up a miniature hotspot for the user. Using one of these devices, you can connect your PC, laptop or smartphone to the internet. For laptop, smartphone and tablet users, a device like this can be useful for ensuring WiFi access on the go. Tariff restrictions might limit whether you can use this abroad or not. Desktop users can make use of a MiFi device as a backup in the event of a net outage or other problem.
Mobile wireless allows the user higher download speeds and more storage space than public WiFi. It’s more like your home broadband in this sense. MiFi is on the uptake, but isn’t quite common yet so the service won’t be as good as your home broadband. Speeds may vary on mobile wireless devices and the choice between a 3G and a 4G device can make all the difference in performance as well as cost.
What to Take into Consideration
If you’ve decided a MiFi device might be for you, what next? As already mentioned, a 3G device will be less expensive but won’t have the higher speeds of a 4G device. The 3G can go up to 20MB, the 4G up to 60MB speeds. Another thing to consider the is the download capacity. This is dependent on the MiFi contract you get rather than the device itself. Very cheap MiFi contracts accompany data usage of less than 10 gigabytes per month. If limited use is what you have in mind then a low data allowance contract is a great cost-cutter. Most devices will enable the user to connect up to 10 other devices (smartphones, laptops, etc) to the internet but it can’t hurt to double check when looking for a contract.
If the prospect of a lengthy contract makes you hesitate, consider a pay as you go contract to see if you find MiFi useful. If you’re not satisfied some providers will allow you to cancel your contract early with no added cost. Whatever you decide, mobile wireless devices are an interesting evolution in wireless technology. Seeing where they go in the future will be fascinating to techies and casual users alike.