Verizon 3G Hotspot Saves Money Without Subscription

Verizon Wireless has announced that it will carry the Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 mobile hotspot. Instead of needing individual broadband cards for your laptops--or bothering with tethering a mobile phone--this portable Wi-Fi router broadcasts a Verizon EV-DO data connection to five users. Best of all, ongoing subscriptions are optional; you could instead opt for a $15 day pass only when needed.

If you choose a two-year contract, the hardware will cost $100 after a rebate. 250MB of monthly content will cost $40, while a 5GB plan will cost $60.

Without the contract, you'll have to pay the full price, which will likely be more than $200 at retail. But if you only occasionally need to tap into the network--and don't want to worry about overage fees--the $15 day pass could offer substantial savings over time.

Verizon says the palm-sized hardware will last four hours on its rechargeable battery or 40 hours idling without your connection. I think it'll be a great option for working from a car, train, or even a hotel without Wi-Fi. You could replace many per-computer mobile data plans with this one device. Verizon will sell the hardware beginning May 17.

If this combination of hardware and carrier doesn't meet your needs, other options could. Other portable routers work if you have a SIM-card smartphone and a data plan. You just swap in the SIM, and the hardware connects just like your phone. Consult your carrier for any restrictions--contract terms sometimes restrict this option.

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