Big news. Hah. To save a whopping $10 a month I have let go my line for the Verizon Wifi Hotspot (left in featured above). I’ve not used it nearly as much as in years past, my contract is up. I’ve been testing tethering from my iPhone (which years ago required arcane jail breaking).

I did a little bit of reading and speed testing to see if the methods of connection made any difference (wireless, bluetooth, or via USB).

The downside of wireless tethering is it eats battery life. Bluetooth has distance issues, and some things suggested it more prone to dropping the signal. I did a few speed tests, but frankly if you do three in a row, you get varied results, so it ended up being pointless. I get good 4G up here in the metropolis of Strawberry, AZ and saw downloads while tethering of 16-24 Mb/s down, and about 1 to 1.5 upload.

It ended being put to use two nights ago when my cable internet went flaky for about 30 minutes, and I was able to do all my photo uploaded in not bad time using he tethered connection (I was wireless, but had the phone plugged into a charger).

I got my first “Mifi” when they were pretty new, in late 2009, when I was working for NMC (they paid):

That was when 3G was the norm. I had my carriers covered, as I had an AT&T iphone and a Verizon hotspot; I used that random in 2011 when I drove 15,000 miles around the US and Canada.

But look at what I described as “good” 3G speeds in a 2009 test from Portland:

MiFi Speed


MiFi Speed flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

These were super handy while traveling, in airports which lacked wireless or lacked free wireless, in hotels that charged crazy rates, or just being on the road. Around that time, 2010 or so, my cable internet at home was not all that stellar. In December when the cable got knocked out by a snowstorm, just for fun, I fired up the 3G mifi and found that it not only worked, but felt faster than my cable.

Also, because I came in early, I had unlimited data on that thing. For maybe a year or more, I used it at home more than the cable internet.

When I got back from my 2011 trip, I found that AT&T had stopped leasing a tower near my town, so there was not only poor signal, there was none. Being off contract, I waltzed down to the Verizon store and switched. Their signal was strong here.

But more than that. A year later, I walked from my house to have breakfast with friends at the Strawberry Lodge, leaving with 3G signal on my iPhone. By the time I got back home, I saw it had been bumped to 4G / LTE. I ran a speed test and was more than impressed with the numbers

I’m not sure I have seen 9 Mb/s uploads in a while, my hunch was I might have been one of the first people up here with a 4G phone?

But alas they would not let me upgrade the Mifi and keep my unlimited data (a kid in the Verizon Store spent 45 minutes trying every end around). The 4G/LTE speed was more that enough rational to give up that unlimited plan, and I got the JetPack that I just de-activated:

Having a backup connection has saved my butt countless times, when wifi is wonky. Or like nowadays at airports the inane ad hoops you jump through to get free wifi.

It’s been a nice ride, but I’m letting you go, Mifi. I’ll give the phone tethering some more tests, but at some point I will likely sell the Mifi on eBay.

I’m untethering myself from it.


Featured image: Gone Tethering flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. Hi Alan!

    Oh! Tethering is fun!

    While I’ve never had a MiFi, I did have a cellular Internet device that I used as a back up when my fixed wireless wasn’t working. But the data costs for cellular in Canada ( especially if you go over your quota) were and are ridiculous!

    I remember jailbreaking my phone back in the day before Apple added the Hotspot feature. And I have many fond memories of joining Adobe Connect and Elluminate (? Blackboard bought them out) sessions from my car on the roadside in years past.

    These days, my cable Internet is wonderfully suitable at 60 Mbps down and 10 up. However I can’t believe it when I run a speed test on my iPhone LTE — download speeds of 140 – 180 Mbps are fantastical compared with the early days of Dial-Up.

    Remember Dial-Up?

  2. i too, weaned off the MiFi and use my iPhone for tethering. A month or two into the experience realized laptop updates were eating up my AT&T “unlimited” limited data allotment and they were kind enough to increase my bill $15.

    i have traveled the country without only my phone as my internet source and has worked beautifully. Gives me a false sense of security when not plugging into hotel and airport wifi.

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