In a commercial featuring 30 Rock actress and producer Tina Fey and director Martin Scorsese, the former Saturday Night Live head writer uses her credit card to gain entrance to an airline lounge. The notion of a faceless slice serving as an access pass would also apply to Novatel Wireless's MiFi, the simply named 3G personal hotspot that will support up to five users simultaneously connecting to a 3G network when it is offered through operators next year.
MiFi is not the first product to enable a small group to bridge WiFi products to the wireless WAN. One early entrant, Junxion, was acquired by Novatel Wireless competitor Sierra Wireless. And Cradlepoint has created a battery-powered device sold at Best Buy that, like the Junxion device, relies on a laptop card to create its WAN connection.
That's not true, though, of the MiFi, which integrates an HSPA or EVDO radio along with the battery that can provide over four hours of Internet access to devices such as a PC, iPod touch, Zune, Nintendo DS or Sony PSP. In fact, without apologies to Right Said Fred, the MiFi may be "too sexy for my LAN" -- particularly for a product that can work silently in a backpack as it serves its nodes. A thicker frame could provide all-day access, but perhaps such lengthy sessions will generally take place where there is access to an outlet; the device continues to perform normally if it is drawing juice from a PC's USB port. But the MiFi is not simply a dumb dispenser of digits.