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A Novatel MiFi 2372 "Intelligent Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot"

MiFi is a brand name used to describe a wireless router that acts as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. In many countries, including the United States, Canada, and Mexico, Inseego Corp (previously known as Novatel Wireless)[1] owns a registered trademark on the "MiFi" brand name; in the United Kingdom, mobile operator Hutchison 3G owns the "MiFi" trademark. Novatel Wireless has never offered an official explanation for the origin of the name "MiFi"; it is believed to be short for "My Wi-Fi".[2] In September 2016 Novatel Wireless announced that it agreed to sell the MiFi brand to TCL Industries Holdings of Hong Kong. The sale was expected to close in early 2017, pending approval from shareholders and regulators.[3]

A MiFi device can be connected to a cellular network and provide Internet access for up to ten devices. Novatel Wireless introduced the first MiFi device in the United States, in May 2009.[4] In the UK, 3's "MiFi" is a similar product from Huawei with the same name.[5][6]

MiFi brand name[edit]

Novatel Wireless owns a registered trademark on the "MiFi" brand name in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico), and a number of countries worldwide:[7] Bahrain, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, Pakistan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, and Thailand.[5][8][9][10]

The notable exception is in the UK where mobile operator 3 owns the "MiFi" trademark. In India the Mi-Fi trademark is owned by Mi-Fi Networks Private Limited.


Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200[edit]

  • Limited to five Wi-Fi clients such as laptops, cameras, gaming devices, and multimedia players; with the exception of manually editing the device’s config file to allow more clients.[11]
  • May be connected to a computer via a Micro-USB connection, though doing so disables the Wi-Fi networking, converting the device into a traditional single-client modem. (However, CNET has introduced a tweak to charge the device over USB while maintaining its functionality).
  • Includes GPS unit, which is usable on some networks like Virgin Mobile and not on others like Verizon.
  • Uses 3G data network (CDMA 1xEVDO RevA).

Novatel Wireless MiFi 23xx series[edit]

Same functionality as 2200, plus:

  • Accepts SD card for in-device shared media storage.[12]
  • Uses 3G data network (Mini 2352: SUPRA/PATHS 900/1900/2100 MHz, MiFi 2372: SUPRA/PATHS 850/1900/2100 MHz; both support GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 MHz).

Novatel Wireless MiFi 33xx series[edit]

Same functionality as 23xx series, plus:

  • Linux-based MiFi OS with widgets:
    • Messages: perform SMS-based messaging actions such as reading, writing, sending, and receiving SMS messages
    • Data usage: track MiFi data usage in home and roaming networks
    • GeoSearch: leverage the GPS functionality of the MiFi to display a map of the local area, search the local area, display the search results on the map
    • Weather: fetch weather data for the current and defined locations
    • MiFi DLNA Server: start, stop, and configure the MiFi DLNA server

4G mobile hotspot devices[edit]

MiFi 4082 from Novatel Wireless for Sprint Nextel

The Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show 2011 saw the introduction of two new 4G-capable MiFi devices from Novatel:

  • Verizon Wireless featured the 4510L model, which will connect to Verizon's LTE 4G network, expected to support 5–12 Mbps download and 2–5 Mbit/s upload.[13]
  • Sprint featured the MiFi 4082, a WiMAX version.[14]

Both devices maintain backward compatibility with existing 3G networks. Other features include:[15]

  • MiFiOS with widget support
  • MicroSD card slot
  • GPS receiver
  • Four-hour battery life
  • Front panel status display using E Ink technology. The front panel display shows battery, signal strength, and number of connected devices. The difficulty of viewing such information was seen as a major shortcoming of earlier MiFi devices.[14]

5G mobile hotspot devices[edit]

In November 2019, Vodafone Qatar and Inseego Corp. together launched the Gulf region’s first commercially available 5G mobile hotspot, 5G MiFi M1100.[16]

  • Connects up to 16 devices simultaneously (15 by Wi-Fi plus one by USB or Ethernet)
  • Power optimization features Quick Charge technology and high-capacity battery

Non-Novatel wireless devices[edit]

A number of providers other than Novatel provide personal hotspot, "MiFi"-like services:

nyx mobile "mifi LTE" mobile router
Huawei 4G MiFi for Camtel Cameroon


Mobile phones with an Internet connection can often be turned into Wi-Fi hotspots using a process called "tethering", which is similar to using dedicated MiFi devices.

The following phone families have built-in features to create Wi-Fi access point:

For other phones there are third-party applications to allow this:


  • Novatel MiFi 2200:
    • Mobile Village "Mobile Star" (Portable Remote Connectivity Gear): "Superstar" Award (2009)[29]
    • Laptop Magazine Editor's Choice (2009)[30]
    • PC World "Gear of the Year" (2009)[31]
    • Mobile News "Most Innovative Product (non-handset)" (2010)[32]
  • Novatel MiFi 2352:
    • Plus X Award in Technology (2009)[33]
    • CTIA Emerging Technology Award (Fashion & Lifestyle Products), 1st Place (2009)[34]
    • CTIA "Hot for the Holidays" (Mobile Internet Device or Netbook) Award (2009)[35]
    • CES Innovations Award (Enabling Technologies) Winner (2010)[36]
    • Mobile World Congress "Global Mobile" Award: Best Mobile Connected Device (2010)[37]
  • Novatel 4G MiFi
    • Consumer Electronics Show 2011, Notebook Accessories Category: Best in Show[38]
    • 2010 World Communication Award (WCA) for Best Mobile Device Strategy[38]
    • Mobile Village Mobile Star Award for Best Laptop or Tablet Accessory[38]

MiFi in the news[edit]

Security Issues[edit]

In January 2010, two major security holes were discovered with the Novatel MiFi 2200 which, if properly exploited, could allow a malicious user to obtain the device's current GPS location and security keys. If the malicious user were physically close enough to use the device's Wi-Fi signal, this could give access to the MiFi's 3G connection as well as any other connected devices.[39] Novatel responded that a security patch would be available in February 2010.[40]

The popularity of MiFi devices can also be problematic for corporate network security. Corporations generally expect to control on-site Internet access: many use firewalls to reduce the risk of malware, and some enforce restrictions aimed at employee productivity. Personal mobile hotspots may provide a "back door" by which employees can circumvent these precautions.[41]


In May 2010, the Mifi 2372 was recalled in Canada by Bell Mobility and Rogers Communications. In two documented cases, difficulty of opening the MiFi battery compartment had caused customers to use levels of force that caused physical damage to the batteries, which subsequently overheated. Novatel replaced the recalled units with a type that featured an easier-to-open battery compartment.

Customers were sent prepaid courier envelopes and instructed to send back their MiFi units for replacement of the battery and battery compartment cover.[42] Customers were notified that Novatel would return the serviced units within six to eight weeks of their return. Bell customers were provided with cellular Internet access via Novatel U998 USB sticks, which were provided as temporary replacements by Bell.

Radio interference at trade shows[edit]

At two major trade shows in 2010—Google's first public demo of Google TV and the iPhone 4 demonstrations at the 2010 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference—keynote presentations using available Wi-Fi connectivity were disrupted by network unreliability. The problem was traced to massive radio interference, caused by the popularity of MiFi and similar devices for "liveblogging" from the trade show floor. In the case of the Apple conference, Apple CEO Steve Jobs stated that 570 different Wi-Fi networks ("several hundred" being MiFis[43]) were operating simultaneously in the exhibit hall.[44][45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Graves, Brad (November 4, 2016). "Novatel Wireless Changing Name to Inseego Corp". San Diego Business Journal. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  2. ^ Margaret Rouse (November 2013). "What is MiFi?". Tech Target. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  3. ^ Graves, Brad (September 22, 2016). "Novatel Sells Wireless Hotspot Business for $50 Million". San Diego Business Journal. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  4. ^ David Pogue (May 6, 2009). "Wi-Fi to Go, No Cafe Needed". New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  5. ^ a b "A Tale Of Two MiFis: 3 Nabs Novatel's Name". eWEEK Europe. September 1, 2009. Archived from the original on 2013-04-20. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
  6. ^ James Middleton (September 1, 2009). "3UK introduces mobile hotspot". Telecoms.com. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  7. ^ "Novatel Wireless Secures Registered Trademark for MiFi". May 4, 2010. Archived from the original on May 9, 2010. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
  8. ^ "Centennial First to Launch Novatel Wireless MiFi(TM) 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot in Puerto Rico". Yahoo! News. January 19, 2010. Retrieved February 9, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Novatel Wireless Builds International Momentum with Industry's First MiFi(TM) Intelligent Mobile Hotspot". Barron's. January 6, 2010. Retrieved February 9, 2010.[dead link]
  10. ^ "CAT Launches Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot in Thailand". Yahoo! News. February 11, 2010. Retrieved February 11, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Novatel Wireless Drives New Era of Mobile Broadband with Industry First MiFi Intelligent Mobile Hotspot". Novatel Wireless, Inc. 2008-12-09. Archived from the original on 2010-02-10. Retrieved 2010-06-08.
  12. ^ "Novatel Wireless Announces MiFi(TM) Intelligent Mobile Hotspot Software Platform Readiness". Yahoo! News. January 7, 2010. Retrieved February 9, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "Novatel to Launch 4G MiFi". Zachs. Jan 10, 2011. Retrieved Jan 11, 2011.
  14. ^ a b Matthew Miller (4 January 2011). "CES: Sprint announces HTC EVO Shift 4G and 3G/4G mobile hotspot devices". ZDNet. Retrieved Jan 11, 2011.
  15. ^ Mark Sullivan (4 January 2011). "Sprint Will Sell a 4G-Friendly MiFi in February". PC World. Retrieved Jan 11, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Vodafone Qatar Premieres the Region's First 5G MiFi® Mobile Hotspot from Inseego". Business Wire. 25 November 2019. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  17. ^ "Forums: About Freedom Spot Photo". Freedompop.com.
  18. ^ New MiFi coming soon to Three. Threemediacentre.co.uk (2011-08-17).
  19. ^ "Android 2.2 ‘Froyo’ Features USB, Wi-Fi Tethering", Wired. May 2010.
  20. ^ "iOS 4.3 Software Update". Apple. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
  21. ^ Dan Moren (2011-03-11). "Hands on with iOS 4.3". Macworld.com. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
  22. ^ Glenn Fleishman (2011-02-22). "Using the Personal Hotspot on your Verizon iPhone". Macworld.com. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
  23. ^ "Verizon Wireless offering Palm WiFi hotspot service for free" Archived 2011-07-10 at the Wayback Machine. Fierce Broadband Wireless 4 April 2010.
  24. ^ "Sharing your connection". http://www.windowsphone.com Archived 2013-05-30 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ MyWi
  26. ^ PiFi. Retrieved on 2012-07-09.
  27. ^ JoikuSpot review – Symbian S60 Applications. Know Your Mobile (2009-06-21). Retrieved on 2011-11-12.
  28. ^ Welcome. WMWifiRouter. Retrieved on 2011-11-12.
  29. ^ "2009 Mobile Star Awards". MobileVillage.com. December 2009. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  30. ^ Michael A. Prospero (May 11, 2009). "MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot (Verizon Wireless): This credit card–size device makes it a cinch to set up a hotspot anywhere, anytime". Laptop Magazine. Archived from the original on April 5, 2010. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  31. ^ Dan Tynan (January 18, 2009). "Gear of the Year (slide 8)". PC World Magazine. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  32. ^ "Mobile News Awards, 2010 Winners". Archived from the original on March 25, 2010. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  33. ^ "Plus X Awards: The Winners". Plus X Awards. Archived from the original on January 10, 2010. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  34. ^ "International CTIA WIRELESS 2009 Announces E-Tech Award Winners". CTIA: The Wireless Association. April 2, 2009.
  35. ^ "CTIA Hot for the Holidays Award Winners Announced". CTIA: The Wireless Association. October 8, 2009. Archived from the original on January 16, 2010. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  36. ^ "2010 Innovations Honorees". Consumer Electronics Association. Archived from the original on February 10, 2010. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  37. ^ "Mobile World Congress: Global Mobile Awards". GSMA. Archived from the original on January 24, 2010. Retrieved February 22, 2010.
  38. ^ a b c Chris Burns (Jan 18, 2011). "Novatel Wireless 4G MiFi Wins Best Accessory at CES 2011 and Best Mobile Device Strategy at WCA". SlashGear. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  39. ^ Humberto Saabedra (January 19, 2010). "Major Novatel MiFi Security Holes Discovered". PhoneNews.com. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  40. ^ "MiFi Security FAQ". Novatel Wireless. January 2010. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  41. ^ "Burgeoning mobile Wi-Fi hotspots present risks to enterprises". SC Magazine. July 23, 2010. Archived from the original on July 24, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-27.
  42. ^ "Bell and Rogers recall Novatel MiFi 2372". 5 May 2010.
  43. ^ "Steve Jobs 2010 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference Keynote". Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2010-10-10.
  44. ^ Andy Ihnatko (June 8, 2010). "Apple keynote fail. Google keynote fail. It's all good". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on June 11, 2010. Retrieved June 9, 2010.
  45. ^ Fleishman, Glenn (June 8, 2010). "Five Hundred Wi-Fi Networks Walk into a Bar". Codebreaker (was: Future Tense with John Moe) (blog). American Public Media. Retrieved 2 July 2019.