A friend and colleague of mine has been without her fixed line broadband at home for the best part of a week which has hindered her ability to work remotely as well as allowing her family to conduct their online activities (like checking personal and work e-mail accounts as an example). Today, it came to a head and with the ongoing delays to service restoration the need for a backup internet connection became apparent.
Luckily, there are a few different types of Mi-Fi devices now available through the various telcos. A Mi-Fi device is effectively a self-contained 3G modem the size of a small deck of cards with a built in Wi-Fi router and battery. Its size makes it ideal to slip in a pocket or bag until you need it. Some Mi-Fi devices place a restriction on the number of devices that can connect simultaneously (around five or eight is usually the magic number).
Anyway, the device that was purchased to do the job was the Huawei E583C along with a prepaid mobile broadband starter kit with a quota of 1GB. This provided the flexibility of avoiding a contract whilst also being able to top up data if their primary connection continues to be offline for an extended period. Of course, for anyone in the same situation, 1GB is not a lot of data so temporary changes to online habits are required to prevent premature exhaustion of the available quota. The Huawei E583C (like other Mi-Fi devices) also uses a micro-USB port for charging so you could also employ the use of a car charger or portable battery to keep it topped up whilst on the move.
Outside of this scenario, Mi-Fi devices are also handy for those that hate dongles or stick modems hanging off the side of the laptop or carry numerous devices that would all require an internet connection (like Wi-Fi only iPads or handheld consoles like the PSP or Nintendo DS). This could be handy for families on those longer road trips to minimise those whiny “are we there yet?” questions from the passenger seats.
So if you haven’t already given some thought to acquiring a backup Internet connection for your household or catering for situations where you need to share mobile data on the move then give a Mi-Fi device some consideration with a SIM from your preferred telco – you may wonder how you lived without it.