MiFi Madness

AirCard 763S

Ok, I’ll admit it… I have a problem.

Ever since my revelation about MiFis — that is, uncoupling the data from a mobile phone and moving it to a dedicated device — I can’t seem to get enough of the damn things. In fact, had I not won that HTC phone last week I would have posted about this, my new Rogers MiFi, instead.

It all started when I spammed posted my first thoughts on the Bell MiFi to the Howard Forums. Thrilled as I was about the LTE speeds I was getting, some of the other members there were less impressed. You can read the discussion here — the TL;DR is that both Bell and Rogers have not one but two bands of LTE service here in Cana-duh, and while my 700MHz Bell LTE MiFi is fairly quick, here in downtown Toronto 2600MHz LTE is noticeably quicker.

Rogers calls their 2600MHz LTE service LTE MAX. More importantly, they sell a MiFi with 2600MHz support, the Sierra Wireless AirCard 763S. Bell sells this same model, of course, but Rogers’ rates for data are actually cheaper than Bell — at least up to 10GB or so of usage per month.

And if Bell’s 700MHz LTE is crazy fast, Rogers’ 2600MHz LTE is, well… crazy faster.

Rogers LTE Speed Test

I logged these results from a moving cab in Toronto’s downtown core. Both downstream and upstream are significantly quicker than the results I got from Bell — in fact, they’re faster in both directions than my home DSL connection!

The AirCard doesn’t have the big touchscreen that you’ll find on the Bell/Novatel MiFi — its small, monochrome display is decidedly more oldskool. But it’s smaller, and has a few standout features of its own.

AirCard Watcher

I’ve found this Android app quite helpful for administering my AirCard. Of course, I could type http://aircard.hotspot into my phone’s browser, but the resulting page isn’t exactly mobile-friendly.

AirCard 763S Extended Battery

Out of the box the AirCard’s battery life sucks; the standard 2000mAh battery couldn’t get me through a single afternoon and evening on the road. But Telus, who also sells this MiFi, also also sells the official 3600mAh extended battery for it. I ordered mine on a Saturday and got it four days later. It adds a noticeable hump to the back of the device, but it still fits into the cheap padded case I got for it. Barely.

If you’re in the market for a MiFi I can definitely recommend this Sierra AirCard for its noticeably faster speeds on Canada’s 2600MHz LTE networks. Furthermore, I recommend Rogers over Bell as your MiFi provider, for the following reasons:

  1. Rogers gives you a 14-day trial of the device and service with no data restrictions;
  2. Rogers has cheaper base fees — $5/month minimum vs. Bell’s $10;
  3. Rogers has cheaper data rates — $40/month for 5GB vs. $70 for 6GB on Bell.

And if you were interested in a dedicated blog about these wondrous wireless portable routers, I’m this close to starting one. All I need is a little encouragement from you…

6 thoughts on “MiFi Madness”

  1. Hi, im interested in your mobile taxi wi-fi experience. Im trying to find a viable solution to add it to my Taxi companies services..i think Wi-fi in cabs and limo’s would be very popular.

    But their are a number of issues:

    Data charges, unauthorized access, security…etc

    I would like to offer email and basic browsing and control the amount of data being used so i can control the costs…do you think this is possible?

    Any help, support, advise you can provide is greatly appreciated.

    S. Karls

    1. I think a MiFi — or rather, a bunch of them — would be a great solution for your fleet.

      Re: data charges I don’t know that you can put a cap on the amount of data used in a particular session, but you could throttle the speeds so it’s only usable for email and basic browsing, as you say.

      For access and security, unless your drivers spend lots of time in gridlocked traffic the fact that the vehicle is moving will mean that only your driver and passenger can connect for any meaningful amount of time. The driver can give out the network password to the passenger or simply leave the network open.

      1. Hi, thanks for the reply.

        Do you know if with the MiFi we could redirect the user to a splash page? This way we could get them to accept basic terms and conditions.

        Is it possible to filter out certain web-Sites or only allow access to certain sites?

        Thank you very much.

      2. I don’t know that this would be possible without custom software on the MiFi.

        And honestly, if I were a user in this situation — with a splash page and a ToS — I probably wouldn’t bother.

      3. Thanks for your input.

        We will work on a viable solution if and when we do find one I will invite you to test it out.

        Best regards,

        S. Karls

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