Verizon Wireless MiFi Lets Wi-Fi Devices Tap 3G Connectivity

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If you’ve ever been out and about with your Wi-Fi enabled gear, you’ve probably thought to yourself that it would be cool if you could tap into a mobile 3G network instead of having to hunt around for an open Wi-Fi hotspot. Verizon Wireless has been thinking the same thing, and has just announced its forthcoming MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot, a small, portable device that enables up to five nearby Wi-Fi gadgets to tap into Verizon’s 3G mobile network to upload photos and video, check email, surf the Web, or tap into digital media. But, of course, all this convenience comes with a price: a two-year contract and bandwidth caps, or paying full price and then $15 every time you want 24 hours’ access to Verizon’s 3G network.

Developed by Novatel Wireless, the MiFi 2200 is designed to be small enough to fit in a pocket or bag, and features integrated Wi-Fi and CDMA antennas—one for connecting to local Wi-Fi devices, and the other for tapping into Verizon’s 3G network. The MiFi 2200 sports a rechargeable battery that Verizon Wireless says can offer up to four hours of connectivity on a single charge and up to 40 hours of standby time.

However, for all its convenience, using the MiFi 2200 won’t necessarily come cheap: Verizon Wireless plans to offer it for $99.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate…and that’s only if customers sign up for a two-year service contract, just like a mobile phone. Options include paying $39.99 a month for 250 MB of data transfer (plus $0.10 for every megabyte over the limit), or paying $59.99 a month for up to 5 GB of data transfer plus $0.05 for every megabyte over the limit. Leaving out taxes and fees, the MiFi 2200 comes in at over $1,000 over two years—or over $1,500 for two years on the 5 GB data plan. Folks who balk at that price can opt to pay “full retail price” for the MiF 2200—Verizon Wireless hasn’t said what that might be—then pay Verizon $15 every time they want to access Verizon’s 3G network for a 24-hour period.

The MiFi 2200 is scheduled to go on sale May 17.