What is a MiFi router? A lot of people have been asking that question. MiFi routers have been trending over the past few years in South Africa and across the globe. In fact, we are using one, a Huawei E5576 Mobile WiFi router even as we are working on this article.
MiFi routers explained
MiFi is a brand name owned by Novatel. However the name has become synonymous with all mobile Wi-Fi devices. MiFi routers come with batteries and they get internet connectivity using SIM cards similar to those that are used in mobile phones.
In this regard they are similar to your mobile phone, save for the fact that their sole purpose is to provide you with internet connectivity. MiFi routers can be used on the go. Most of them are small enough that they can be carried in a pocket or elsewhere. This gives people the ability to stay connected to their networks wherever they may be.
How do MiFi devices work?
MiFi devices are mobile. They use mobile SIM cards to get internet connectivity. If you are in South Africa, what you will do is you will buy a mobile WiFi device and a SIM card. Alternatively, you can use a SIM card that you have already been using. You will then get internet using the device.
But before that happens, you may need to set up the device to work on your particular network. That won’t be necessary if you are using a preconfigured device. But should you decide your MiFi router on another network, you will have to set up APN settings, just as you would on your phone.
Best MiFi routers in South Africa
There are many MiFi router makes and models in use across South Africa at the moment. The following are a few examples that can be found in shops across the country;
- Huawei E5573
- Huawei E5576
- Huawei LTE R219H
- Mobicel MV6
- ZTE R219z
- ZTE Mf927u
- Urben 4G LTE
- Hisense H220M
- Ultra Link 4G LTE
- Tenda 4G LTE
- Astrum 4G/3G LTE HS720
- NOVATEL MiFi 6620L
Advantages of MiFi devices
Now that we have answered the question; “what is a MiFi router,” it’s time for us to look at some of the advantages of owning such a devices. This is something to which we have already alluded. The following are the advantages of MiFi devices;
- A MiFi router is mobile. That means you can carry it wherever you go. It means you can take your internet along with you. Of course, that’s possible simply by buying data on your phone. However, MiFi routers have several other advantages.
- You can connect a number of devices to a MiFi device’s internet at once. On our Huawei E5576-320, we can connect up to 10 devices at once.
- Depending on the model, batteries on MiFi devices last a respectable amount of time. The average is 6 hours. You will get some gadgets that have bigger batteries. It means you won’t need to worry about exhausting the battery on your phone. MiFi devices are specialized, which aides the battery life on the device. They don’t have a screen that can drain your battery, as an example.
How much do they cost
In South Africa, MiFi routers can be found beginning from around R400. They go all the way to around R2000. The price difference is down to brand and available features.
How to Choose a MiFi router
Now that you know what is a MiFi router, it’s time for us to show you how to choose one. For most people, making a choice boils down to price. That’s all very well, but there are other important considerations;
In general, the bigger the battery on a MiFi router, the better. It means you will be able to go for longer without needing to recharge. Our E5576 has a 1500mah battery. There are some models that have 3000mah batteries.
We have already noted that the average battery life is around 6 hours. That depends on the number of devices that you will have connected at once. The more the number, the less the battery life.
Speed is another important consideration when choosing a Mobile WiFi router. You don’t want to end up choosing one that stiffles your internet speed. In general, MiFi devices that are on the market these days offer more than enough speeds.
As an example, the Huawei E5576 that we have promises download speeds of up to 150Mbps. When buying, we could have opted for a more expensive option offering 300Mbps. However, that would hardly have made sense, considering that we use Rain 4G internet whose speeds are capped at 10Mbps. So, the device that we got is more than enough for our network.
One of our major gripes with the E5576 is that it does not have a display showing battery life. We suppose such a display would have reduced the battery life but it would have been a small price to pay for the convenience.
MiFi devices are primarily about battery life, and it becomes pointless if you cant see how much battery life you have remaining on the device. So, you need to get one that at least has an LCD display.
But a MiFi device that has USSD and SMS
We have previously shown how to check the balance on an MTN router. The challenge with routers is that they are not intuitive when it comes to checking balances. Some people remove the SIM in order to check balances using their phones. That’s rather cumbersome.
One way of checking the balance is via USSD. So, you should absolutely only buy a MiFi router that has USSD. It should also have SMS. The one that we have only has SMS. Meanwhile, our network does not support checking data balance via SMS. The result has been interesting, and it shouldn’t happen to you.
In this article we answered the question; what is a MiFi router. We noted that a MiFi device is a router that comes with a battery and that gets connectivity via a mobile SIM card. Some of these devices actually have dual SIM cards, further extending their usefulness.
How has your network been performing in terms of speed? Use our Speed Testing Tool to find out. You will be surprised at the results. Yo can leave comments on our Router Discussions forum on in the comments section below.