Verizon Offers Multi-User Mobile Hotspot Router

Road warriors who frequently need to set up temporary virtual offices will be happy to learn that Verizon is set to release a 3G-based mobile hotspot device, called the Verizon MiFi 2200, on May 17. The MiFi is a small, rechargeable-battery-powered CDMA (EV-DO Rev. A)-based device that permits up to five 802.11b/g wireless devices to simultaneously get online.

The MiFi measures only 3.5x2.3x0.4-inches and weighs a mere 2.05 ounces. It is based on the Novatel Wireless MiFi Intelligent Mobile Hotspot design that was first announced last December. In the initial Novatel press release, Novatel stated that the MiFi "creates a personal cloud of high-speed Internet connectivity that can be easily shared between multiple users and Wi-Fi devices such as laptops, cameras, gaming devices and multimedia players."

The MiFi's removable battery is rated to last up to four hours of usage or 40 hours in standby mode. The MiFi contains a microUSB port that connects to an included AC adapter for charging; the microUSB port can also be used to connect a Windows XP, 2000, or Vista computer directly to the device for use as a tethered modem.

Credit: Novatel Wireless
While the MiFi is certainly not the first 3G mobile router ever available, it does significantly simplify the process of setting up a mobile hotspot and noticeably shrinks the form-factor of such devices. Devices such as the D-Link DIR-451 require that a carrier-supplied PC Card be inserted in order to be operational; the MiFi's 3G radio is integrated directly into the device.

For those who don't want to commit to a contract and data plan, the MiFi will sell for $99 (after a $50 rebate). Non-contract-based users will be able to use the device for $15/day for a 24-hour "DayPass." If you opt for a data plan, the device is free. One of the offered data plans will offer 250MB per moth and cost $40/month, with overages charged at the rate of 10-cents per MB. Another data plan will cost $60/month, offer 5GB per month, and charge only 5-cents per MB in overage charges. Rumors speculate that Sprint will also be offering a Novatel MiFi-based mobile hotspot device in the coming months as well.

Additional information from CNET and Phone Arena