Chip's Technical Blog

Tech commentary of thoughts, challenges, how-to's, and the mundane.

Virgin Mobile MiFi is Useless

Before Christmas, I purchased a Virgin Mobile MiFi as an alternative to the then-weak tethering options for an iPhone. I was particularly excited about the MiFi from VM because I do not need one all the time, but just sometimes while I’m traveling.

Over Christmas, it worked OK. I had a problem keeping it charged in the car because it wouldn’t charge from a normal micro-USB connection, but needed a specialized one (I think it may simply have to do with making the data lines, but for whatever reason it would not charge from a separate USB cable plugged into a car-USB adaptor, despite the fact that it will charge an iPhone and an iPad simultaneously.

But I fixed that by getting a separate car charger. Well, now I cannot download any content at all over the MiFi. It became un-activated, and I had to go back through the activation process. After doing so, I can download content from virginmobileusa.com (I even purchased some bandwidth so I could use it – I’ve been able to use none).

I’ve now tried to use the MiFi 3 times on 3 separate days over 3 weeks. It has failed each time, with the same symptoms. I have rebooted everything, tried to use the reset button on the device, the laptop, etc. I am thoroughly and utterly convinced that it is a VirginMobile problem. (This is obvious from the fact that it can connect to the virgin mobile site).

I also tried to call the support line just now, and sat on hold 5 minutes with frequent apologies from the automated system that they are busier than usual. From what I’m reading on websites, they have been busier than usual for months.

So that’s it. I’m going to give up on my MiFi. I might try to sell it, except that I don’t think I would feel good selling it.

Instead, I’m going to try the new hotspot functionality of my iPhone. It’s disgustingly priced as a tethering plan, but from what I’m reading, I can turn it on and off at will, switching between data plans anytime I want. So if that’s true that may work out well for me.

If VirginMobile wishes to correct this, they can refund my $20 for the data I bought recently, and contact me. Maybe they can unlock the device to use with companies other than VM, or maybe they can make it work. But from what I’m reading on the internet, this infrastructure is just a disaster, and many of us feel like we totally wasted the money we put into it.

Oh well. Live and learn.

2 Responses to “Virgin Mobile MiFi is Useless”

  1. Steve says:

    Greetings Chip,

    I have been doing some research this morning and came across your blog. I can tell you that, back at the time you were having trouble with your MIFI I was also. I found that the only way I could get it to reliably work was to USB tether and dial up. But, now my MIFI has been working perfectly since about May. VM got the backend sorted and the throughput is averaging 1.25Mbps down while on 3G.

    Also, I recently purchased an ALFA 3G wireless router and have successfully tethered the MIFI to the ALFA. Now, I can have more than 5 clients connected and I still get the same throughput. I was on a business trip with a group of guys 3 weeks ago and we were connecting and disconnecting because of the 5 device limit – and the site we were at had 0 coverage for ANY cellular while in the building. I placed the MIFI with a cellular amp by the door, and we were in business for internet. Everyone there was trying to tether their Androids, laptops, tablets – it was rather frustrating with the 5 device limit. So next week, when we are there again, we will be able to connect 254 devices if we want……

    Have a great one! Steve

  2. chip says:

    Hi Steve – thanks for the point of reference. I guess I’ll keep it in my backpack then, so I can pull it out if it becomes helpful. I can also report that my M-I-L has also been using her VM MiFi without complaint. -Chip

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