Heeeeere's MiFi

If I seem a little giddy this week, it's because I finally got a Novatel MiFi 2200 for my Verizon Mobile Broadband service. MiFi uses the Verizon CDMA Revision A data network to create a WiFi hotspot that you can take anywhere. I haven't taken the time to give it a full analysis, but in my initial usage I found it quite impressive.


MiFi has been available for several months now, so I don't want to spend too much time on the basics. It's a rectangular device slightly larger than a credit card (and about half a centimeter deep) that acts as a WiFi hotspot connecting you to Verizon's 3G data network.

I got the MiFi for my girlfriend because she uses my Verizon 3G service when I'm not on the road. She's not at all tech-savvy, so I figured it'd be an easier way for her to get online than having to run the VZAccess Manager connection software on her laptop in order to dial out with her Novatel v740 ExpressCard.

As it turns out, MiFi is so great that I think it's impossible to get people to understand it using traditional marketing. It kind of makes me think of the T-Mobile HotSpot@Home service in that way. On the service, both MiFi and HotSpot@Home are amazing. MiFi allows you to just push a button and have WiFi anywhere there is a Verizon signal. HotSpot@Home allows you to make unlimited calls anywhere in the world that you can grab a WiFi signal for ten bucks a month. When you say to sentences to a tech guy like me they salivate. When you say those sentences to a layman they ask you when's the next showing of Zombieland.

So far I've only gotten to enjoy the beauty of MiFi briefly (one thing about non-techies, I find, is that if you give them an awesome gadget and they actually understand it, you'll be lucky to see it before the solstice), so I haven't had a chance to analyze exactly how it works using a sniffer. I did go into it's configuration interface, however, so I can report on that.

The MiFi configuration interface offers a few typical WiFi options, but it definitely values simplicity over versatility. By default there are three network profiles setup; one unencrypted, one with WPA Personal w/TKIP and one for guest access. They do offer options for WEP and WPA Personal w/AES, but no WPS. When it comes to performance options they do offer the ability to choose your channel (2.4 GHz only), but there are no RTS Threshold, DTIM Interval, Fragmentation Threshold of intra-BSS blocking settings. I guess I should've expected as much, but it was a little disappointing.

MiFi does offer some network security settings. There are port forwarding settings that allow you to run a limited slate of services through MiFi. Also, if you swap your Mobile Broadband service to a different device the MiFi can still act as a LAN-only AP for local services like iTunes sharing or wireless gaming.

I'm going to run the sniffer while using the MiFi soon, so I'll post more about how it's working over the weekend. In the meantime, I'd really recommend it strongly for anyone who is currently a Verizon 3G customer or is planning to be one.

Comments

  1. There are actually DTIM settings... just not in the graphical interface. Download your XML config file and disect it with a text editor... there are a lot more settings in there.

    Nic

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Nic. I'll have to check that out.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Is the contents of the XML config file documented anywhere? Have you found any useful tags revealed via the XML file?

    I have found one, it's the url1, url2, url3, url4 under the DNS tag. Those are DNS A records returned by the mifi for the mifi itself. So intead of navigating to http://mifi.admin, you can do: http://weakmifi

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