Mobile WiFi – what is it and what can I do with it? Well, mobile WiFi has been out for over a year now and I find this one of the most intriguing advancements in digital living. The concept is not really new – geeks have been running WiFi bridges on their laptops since the mobile broadband came out. Essentially Mobile WiFi (or MiFi, as Novatel calls their product) does for your personal digitalzoa what the broadband router did for your home – it makes a gateway for all the digital devices around you to the Internet.
Many people may say, “So what – I don’t need that” – even I myself don’t have an immediate use for it, being around $30/mo. Similarly, you don’t need a home router if you only have one networked PC, but the point is, you eventually will – because this is a glimpse into what is coming. Let me describe…
Automotive – all the major car companies either have Auto WiFi available or it will be shortly – Chrysler, Ford, GM, Mercedes, BMW, etc. This is a 3G network connecting your car’s onboard computer to the Internet and WiFi then shared for all the passengers. Not only is this great for the people online in the car, but think of all the automotive applications – it’s like OnStar™ or GPS on steroids!
And if your car doesn’t come with Auto WiFi, you can have it installed – the leading company, AutoNet Mobile, which makes the system now used in GM, sells their product to be installed like any other car stereo or entertainment system.
But while Auto WiFi is big today – what will this technology offer next year? Imagine if your 3G enabled smartphone, can suddenly become a WiFi bridge – a gateway to the Internet for all your other WiFi-only devices! You now have your own personal network (or wearable network!) – that cell phone on your hip or in your purse is now the Internet gateway for you netbook, your friend’s laptop, the Xbox you brought on vacation, your office MP3/video player (if you can’t stream over your office network) – the list will keep growing because there are more WiFi uses every day. So your smartphone becomes your router – why pay for multiple 3G services when you can have one and run all your devices through it.
Maybe that day is coming soon, but until then, you can buy an almost-credit-card-sized Mobile WiFi gadget and run on its own battery for 4 hours (or plug it in your laptop). Take it in your car-pool to work or use it on your train commute. Hey, you could even sell WiFi to your fellow passengers – “Five dollars from here until NYC”. But hurry if you want to impress friends or make your $5 – everyone will have their own connection soon.