Any time we launch a new product, we like to thoroughly test it with a real customer in order to get objective feedback. Hence, for our Italy Mi Fi rental (mobile broadband), we offered the service for free to a couple of users. While we could tell that they were using the MiFi device everyday, we did not communicate with them regarding their experience until they got back from Italy. We hoped and anticipated to get glowing reviews and happily, the device and service did not disappoint.
Here is what the MiFi is. The MiFi is a device that creates your own personal hotspot. You can connect any device that utilizes wifi, including but not limited to, PCs, smartphones, Blackberry phones, iPhones, iPads, E-readers and Mac. As the device is portable and is rechargeable, you can literally be sitting in the middle of a park or even on a train and be able to use your lap top or Blackberry to check emails or surf the web. Furthermore, up to 5 devices can be used at one time. When I travel, I usually have several devices, including a Blackberry and an iPad. I can use my Blackberry while someone else is using my iPad – of course, they need to be within range which is typically about 30 feet from the device.
There are several features that the MiFi offers besides the portability and cost savings that merit a mention. In the past, we have received many requests for Blackberry or iPhone rentals. The fact is, if you are used to using an iPhone or Blackberry in the US, you would want to be able to use a similar device overseas in order to eliminate the learning curve. With the MiFi, you can use your own device or devices. Plus, all you need to do in order to access the hotspot is to turn it on, search for a new hotspot on your device and…that’s it! When we first considered offering data to our customers going to Italy we knew that in order to offer a complete solution, we would have to take into consideration all devices. Before we learned about the MiFi device we, figured we would have to offer a data SIM specifically geared for Blackberrry phones, micro SIMs for iPads and iPhones, and data cards or USB devices for Macs and PCs. The MiFi, while is not an inexpensive device to purchase, does everything 3-4 other devices does together and more.
So, while the MiFi device is great, it is only part of the equation. The other part is the actual service. If one were to get a card from Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile or AT&T and roam with their services, they could potentially end up paying several thousands of dollars for a months worth of usage. Consider this, Verizon charges $100 plus tax per month above and beyond the cell phone bill for 70 mb of internet and email connectivity. Overage usage rates soar considerably. AT&T and T-Mobile are even more expensive – much more expensive.. Cellular Abroad’s Mi Fi plan for Italy offers unlimited usage.
If you put the two together, the Mi Fi device and the unlimited data for Italy, you have a winner. In fact, as of now, and this is very much the slow season, demand is far exceeding our supply. The good news is that we are rushing to get more devices and more data plans.