Hmmm… I might want one of these. Here’s an excerpt from the press release:
Novatel Wireless unveiled MiFi, an unprecedented line of Intelligent Mobile Hotspots. Together with a rich applications environment for enterprises and consumers, MiFi drives a new ecosystem of broadband connectivity. Unlike existing router solutions that require an external broadband modem and serve only to provide connectivity, the MiFi line creates a personal cloud of high-speed Internet connectivity that can be easily shared between multiple users and Wi-Fi devices such as laptops, cameras, gaming devices and multimedia players. The MiFi products serve as an intelligent, open platform capable of hosting advanced software applications and flexible enough to address the continued evolution of mobile broadband.
At the moment, they’re only available in the US. David Pogue of the NYT has tried one and given it a pretty enthusiastic review. “Imagine”, he writes,
“if you could get online anywhere you liked — in a taxi, on the beach, in a hotel with disgustingly overpriced Wi-Fi — without messing around with cellular modems. What if you had a personal Wi-Fi bubble, a private hot spot, that followed you everywhere you go?
Incredibly, there is such a thing. It’s the Novatel MiFi 2200, available from Verizon starting in mid-May ($100 with two-year contract, after rebate). It’s a little wisp of a thing, like a triple-thick credit card. It has one power button, one status light and a swappable battery that looks like the one in a cellphone. When you turn on your MiFi and wait 30 seconds, it provides a personal, portable, powerful, password-protected wireless hot spot.
The MiFi gets its Internet signal the same way those cellular modems do — in this case, from Verizon’s excellent 3G (high-speed) cellular data network. If you just want to do e-mail and the Web, you pay $40 a month for the service (250 megabytes of data transfer, 10 cents a megabyte above that). If you watch videos and shuttle a lot of big files, opt for the $60 plan (5 gigabytes). And if you don’t travel incessantly, the best deal may be the one-day pass: $15 for 24 hours, only when you need it. In that case, the MiFi itself costs $270.
In essence, the MiFi converts that cellular Internet signal into an umbrella of Wi-Fi coverage that up to five people can share. (The speed suffers if all five are doing heavy downloads at once, but that’s a rarity.)”
UPDATE: Bill Thompson points out that similar functionality is available via Joiku for users of Nokia and selected other phones. And then Quentin tweeted about the Huawei D100 Wireless Broadband Router.