MiFi is a brand name to describe a wireless router that acts as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot device.

A Novatel MiFi 2372 "Intelligent 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 has been suggested that it is short for "My Wi-Fi".[2]

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

MiFi brand name


Novatel Wireless owns a registered trademark on the "MiFi" brand name in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico), and a number of countries worldwide:[6] 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.[4][7][8][9]

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.[10]



Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200

MiFi 2200 from Novatel Wireless for Verizon Wireless
  • 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 Archived 2013-01-19 at archive.today to charge the device over USB while maintaining its functionality.)
  • Includes a 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


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


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

MiFi 4510L from Novatel Wireless for Verizon Wireless
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[16]
  • GPS receiver
  • Four-hour battery life[16]
  • Front panel status display using E Ink technology. The front panel display shows battery, signal strength, and number of connected devices.[16] The difficulty of viewing such information was seen as a major shortcoming of earlier MiFi devices.[14]

5G mobile hotspot devices


In November 2019, Vodafone Qatar and Inseego Corp. together launched the Gulf region’s first commercially available 5G mobile hotspot, 5G MiFi M1100.[17]

  • 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


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)[33]
    • Laptop Magazine Editor's Choice (2009)[34]
    • PC World "Gear of the Year" (2009)[35]
    • Mobile News "Most Innovative Product (non-handset)" (2010)[36]
  • Novatel MiFi 2352:
    • Plus X Award in Technology (2009)[37]
    • CTIA Emerging Technology Award (Fashion & Lifestyle Products), 1st Place (2009)[38]
    • CTIA "Hot for the Holidays" (Mobile Internet Device or Netbook) Award (2009)[39]
    • CES Innovations Award (Enabling Technologies) Winner (2010)[40]
    • Mobile World Congress "Global Mobile" Award: Best Mobile Connected Device (2010)[41]
  • Novatel 4G MiFi
    • Consumer Electronics Show 2011, Notebook Accessories Category: Best in Show[42]
    • 2010 World Communication Award (WCA) for Best Mobile Device Strategy[42]
    • Mobile Village Mobile Star Award for Best Laptop or Tablet Accessory[42]

Security issues


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.[43] Novatel responded that a security patch would be available in February 2010.[44]

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.[45]

Recall Information


In May 2010, the MiFi 2372 was recalled in Canada by Bell Mobility and Rogers Communications.[46] 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 then overheated. Novatel replaced the recalled units with ones with a replaced easier to open battery compartment.

Radio interference at trade shows


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. Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that 570 different Wi-Fi networks ("several hundred" being MiFis[47]) had been operating simultaneously in the Apple exhibit hall.[48][49]

See also



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  2. ^ Margaret Rouse (November 2013). "What is MiFi?". Tech Target. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  3. ^ David Pogue (May 6, 2009). "Wi-Fi to Go, No Cafe Needed". New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ James Middleton (September 1, 2009). "3UK introduces mobile hotspot". Telecoms.com. Retrieved September 3, 2023.
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  8. ^ "Novatel Wireless Builds International Momentum with Industry's First MiFi(TM) Intelligent Mobile Hotspot". Barron's. January 6, 2010. Retrieved February 9, 2010. [permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "CAT Launches Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot in Thailand". Yahoo! News. February 11, 2010. Retrieved February 11, 2010.[permanent dead link]
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  13. ^ "Novatel to Launch 4G MiFi". Zacks. 10 January 2011. Archived from the original on 15 January 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  14. ^ a b Matthew Miller (4 January 2011). "CES: Sprint announces HTC EVO Shift 4G and 3G/4G mobile hotspot devices". ZDNet. Archived from the original on January 7, 2011. Retrieved Jan 11, 2011.
  15. ^ Mark Sullivan (4 January 2011). "Sprint Will Sell a 4G-Friendly MiFi in February". PC World. Retrieved 11 January 2011.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ a b c Mark Sullivan (4 January 2011). "Sprint Will Sell a 4G-Friendly MiFi in February". PC World. Retrieved 3 September 2023.
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  24. ^ "iOS 4.3 Software Update". Apple. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
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  26. ^ Glenn Fleishman (2011-02-22). "Using the Personal Hotspot on your Verizon iPhone". Macworld.com. Retrieved 2023-02-23.
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  29. ^ "MyWi Released! Turn your iPhone into a Wifi hotspot!". Archived from the original on 1 June 2011.
  30. ^ "PiFi". Archived from the original on October 2, 2023. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
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  33. ^ "2009 Mobile Star Awards". MobileVillage.com. December 2009. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  34. ^ 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.
  35. ^ Dan Tynan (January 18, 2009). "Gear of the Year (slide 8)". PC World Magazine. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  36. ^ "Mobile News Awards, 2010 Winners". Archived from the original on March 25, 2010. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
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  46. ^ "Bell Novatel MiFi 2372 deemed unsafe for human use, recalled". Engadget. Retrieved 2022-08-16.
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