This is an ex-MiFi – or is it?

After providing sterling service on a few trips, not to mention emergency internet access when my broadband has been down, it looks like my MiFi has developed a problem. It started last night, when my MacBook suddenly lost the ability to connect to anything. Google Chrome suggested it was a DNS problem, but I’n not convinced it was that specific. It was more the phenomenon of having a live WiFi connection to a router (in this case the MiFii), with the router claiming it’s connected to the internet, but no actual data passes through it.

I’ve seen this once or twice before with these devices, and the usual trick of pulling to battery out, calling it a few rude names and replacing the battery normally fixes it. Well, the first time, it did. For a short time, that is. After that it went off again, and no amount of restarting devices would persuade it to return to life.

Now ordinarily, that would be a Very Bad Thing. Les with no internet is about as bad as Les without coffee.

But my iPhone 4S can be used “tethered” – that is, it can share its 3G connection over WiFi (or cable, or bluetooth, if that’s what you prefer). But wait, I hear you say – isn’t that expensive? Well, that depends. On some contracts, tethering is forbidden. On others, you have to pay extra. But on mine, it’s included. Aha! I hear you say – isn’t there some arbitrary cap on that? Don’t you start getting charged after reading a few emails? Well, as it happens, I’d checked that not long ago. And here’s what those nice Three people say about their “all you can eat” internet component of their One Plan, which as I’ve mentioned, does apply to tethered use:

Even if you used your phone for every minute of every day you could only possibly use, subject to traffic management requirements and policy, up to 1000GB each month.  So in a sense, there is a data limit of up to 1000GB, which is based on what you can physically use.

Yes, that’s right – the only limit is the limit of how much data you can actually squeeze through a mobile connection.

So, I hear you ask, this tethering thing is probably slower than the MiFi, right? Errr, well, no. Well, maybe not slower than the latest model of MiFi (not the one I have). If anything, it’s a wee bit quicker using the iPhone 4S than my second-generation MiFi.

So, that leaves one question: why the photon have I continued using the MiFi, and paying moderate amounts of money for data, instead of carrying one less device, once less cable and not spending more money. Hmm. Now that’s a good question. Habit, I guess.

The only downside is that using the iPhone as a router totally hammers the battery – after being connected for a couple of hours this evening, the battery had dropped to 9% and it had stopped doing much in the way of transferring data. So, make sure you have a USB cable or a charger  handy.

As it’s eighteen months old, I think I’ll just retire the MifFi now. Should have done it earlier, and saved a bit of money…

Update: 30 June 2012 – Ah. Maybe it’s some weird 3 network thing. This morning, I’m getting the non-connection thing with the iPhone, and the MiFi is letting me connect.  I’m officially confused. If the devices were using different networks, it might make sense..