STRETCHING COMFORT ZONES
Looks like the U.S. wireless carriers are finally trying to innovate a bit on the wireless broadband front, judging from the latest from David Pogue. Well, at least one of them is, as the review goes on to explain:
"...imagine 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.
The thing to note here is that this is really far less about technology, than Verizon's decision to tinker with it's existing business model for wireless broadband and offer something that may at the margin compete with some of it's own lucrative offerings in the space. Indeed, not too long ago Verizon specifically frowned at sharing one of their wireless broadband data modems, as the piece goes on to note:
Hopefully we'll see more of this kind of thing from the wireless carriers going forward. Fingers crossed.