What is MiFi?
MiFi devices are Wi-Fi mobile broadband dongles. You may have heard of these gadgets before, but under a different name - they’re often referred to as Wi-Fi dongles, mobile hotspots or pocket Wi-Fi.
MiFi is a Three brand name. They are functionally no different to other Wi-Fi dongles, but 3 was the first network to launch these gadgets in the UK and decided to go with its own moniker.
This term is sometimes used as a generic name for wireless dongles, but when we’re talking about Mi Fi on Broadband Genie we are specifically referring to devices on the Three network. If you’re looking for a network other than Three please visit our mobile Wi-Fi page, which lists all providers.
What is a Wi-Fi dongle?
Wi-Fi dongles provide access to the internet via mobile networks, and create a Wi-Fi network which makes it easy to share the connection. A single Wi-Fi dongle can typically support 10-20 devices at once.
Should I get MiFi or a USB dongle?
Not sure if you’d be best off with a MiFi or a USB dongle? They differentiate on several key points which may help you decide...
MiFi is for sharing
Three wireless dongles support multiple connections at the same time. This is handy for sharing mobile broadband with friends and family, and also means MiFi can be a replacement for home broadband, especially now that 4G is available.
USB dongles are limited because they only connect to a single computer at a time, and only support specific operating systems. A MiFi unit works with anything that can connect to Wi-Fi.
MiFi is more expensive
One downside of a MiFi dongle can be the cost - they tend to be at the more premium end of the dongle market so aren’t best if you’re just after the cheapest possible mobile broadband. For cheap deals look for USB dongles, or contracts with no set-up fee.
How fast is Three mobile broadband?
Three quotes a maximum speed of 21Mb for 3G and 40Mb for 4G. In reality the broadband is unlikely to reach those figures, but you can still expect a fast mobile internet service.
Three is a consistently strong performer in independent tests. In the latest OpenSignal mobile network report, Three had an average download speed of 23.31Mb on 4G (the second fastest) and for 3G it was joint first with an average 6.12Mbps.
Does Three have network coverage in my area?
Signal strength has a huge impact on mobile broadband speed so it’s very important to check coverage before purchasing. You can do this using the official Three network coverage tool.
Of course, if you already have a smartphone or other mobile broadband device on the Three network you can be sure that a new MiFi unit will work just as well.
Should I get 3G or 4G MiFi?
For anything other than simple web browsing a 4G dongle is the best option as it offers significantly faster speeds. Even if you cannot presently get 4G the networks are expanding all the time and you can still use 3G when there’s no 4G signal.
How do I find the best Three MiFi deal for me?
First, use the Three network coverage tool and make sure there’s signal in your area. With that out of the way check the comparison table above and you’ll see our offers are broken down into various key areas. Click these headings to re-order the table and compare specific criteria, or click the Three logo to read other user’s opinions and leave your own review.
What should I look out for when comparing Three MiFi packages?
Contract deals are best suited to regular and/or heavy mobile broadband users since you will get more data for the money. Pay as you go (PAYG) MiFi is perfect for infrequent or light use as you’re only going to spend money when it’s actually being used.
Three MiFi deals are available on 1 month (or “no contract”), 12 months and 24 months contracts, or on a PAYG basis where there is no monthly payment but the dongle will need to be topped up with credit. Early cancellation of contracts is expensive so don’t sign up for a long agreement if you’re not sure it’s going to be required in a few months time.
Up-front costs for mobile broadband are generally inexpensive; the priciest packages will be PAYG deals which include the cost of the hardware. If you don’t want to pay anything there are always free mobile broadband deals available.
The monthly price covers the cost of subsidised hardware (if not paid in full up-front) and the monthly data usage limit. The higher your data limit, the higher the monthly price.
This controls how much you can use the internet each month. Exceed this and you’ll be charged extra, so choose a limit that’s slightly over your estimated requirements. Not sure what data limit you need? Read our guide to mobile broadband data usage.