Verizon Wireless is finding Wi-Fi to be more friend than foe these days. The carrier, which used to advertise the benefits of its mobile data network over Wi-Fi, plans to start selling a Wi-Fi-enabled device that lets customers share Internet connectivity.
The device, called the MiFi 2200 developed by Novatel Wireless, lets customers share Internet connectivity so long as one person is hooked up to the Verizon 3G network. The device acts as a personal Wi-Fi cloud, accommodating up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices, including notebooks, netbooks, cameras, gaming devices or portable media/MP3 players.
The device is small enough to fit in a pocket, and it weighs just over 2 ounces, according to Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney. It includes integrated internal CDMA and Wi-Fi antennas, security and authentication. When one device is connected through Wi-Fi, the MiFi 2200’s rechargeable battery provides up to four hours of active use and 40 hours of standby time on a single charge.
One of the use cases for the device is family road trips. One person in the car can be connected to Verizon’s 3G network while others use Wi-Fi to connect a notebook or other device to the Internet.
The MiFi 2200 goes on sale May 17 for $99.99 after a $50 rebate and new two-year agreement. Price plans range from $40 a month to $60 a month. Customers also can get a day pass for $15 when the device is purchased at full retail price without a monthly service plan.
Verizon Wireless for some time now has been selling several phones with Wi-Fi connectivity built in.