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What is a MiFi dongle?

MiFis or MiFi dongles are compact, wireless devices that enable multiple users to share a single mobile broadband connection while they are on the go.

MiFis work by creating a localised signal, similar to the wireless routers used by home broadband providers. For this reason, some people refer to the technology that MiFis use as wireless mobile broadband.

As with mobile broadband dongles, MiFis are are offered on monthly or yearly contracts, or pay-as-you-go deals.

You can compare the latest MiFi broadband deals at uSwitch now.

What is MiFi mobile broadband? How does a MiFi work?

A MiFi taps into 3G or 4G mobile phone networks and uses this connection to create a mini wireless broadband cloud or hotspot. This can then be shared between mobile internet-enabled devices — such as smartphones, laptops, tablets and even games consoles — that are within range of its signal.

How fast is MiFi mobile broadband?

MiFi mobile broadband provides standard 3G or 4G connection speeds, depending upon network coverage. EE advertises 4G speeds of up to 60Mbps for their MiFi deals.

As with any type of connection, however, users will typically experience some slowdown when the signal is being shared.

mifi dongle

Which providers offer MiFi products?

As phones become more advanced and capable of creating their own mobile broadband hotspots, MiFis are losing popularity, so fewer providers are offering MiFi products nowadays.

At the time of writing, EE, Vodafone and O2 all offer MiFi units that are 4G capable, as well as 3G models.

Set-up

One of the great things about MiFis is that they're very easy to set up. All you need to do is turn on the unit and wait for your computer to detect the signal.

This typically takes a matter of seconds. Once this is done you can get online at broadband speeds instantaneously. Unlike some dongles, there is no software to install.

MiFi vs mobile broadband dongles

A dongle will only allow you to get online with one device at a time. By contrast, MiFi units let multiple users connect to the signal simultaneously, making them handy for families. MiFis are also a great, cost-effective option for students living in shared accommodation.

MiFis also offer the advantage over dongles that they do not need to be plugged in to the device that they are connecting to the internet. This means that they can be placed in the optimum position to ensure a good signal, thus allowing users to overcome some of the problems associated with using a dongle.

Can data be stored on a MiFi?

Just as dongles double as mass storage units, MiFis also offer the chance to store files on them. Typically they're compatible with microSD cards, which can be inserted into the MiFi to boost storage space.

Compare all mobile broadband deals at uSwitch now.