@HORWITZ

Image Credit: Verizon

Inseego’s MiFi portable hotspots have been popular with users for years, enabling laptops, tablets, and prior-generation phones to access the latest cellular networks using Wi-Fi connections. Today, Verizon announced an exclusive deal to sell Inseego’s 5G model — the MiFi M1000 — to customers across the U.S., enabling users in five cities today — and a promised 30 by year’s end — to access its mobile Ultra Wideband network.

When used in one of Verizon’s 5G cities, MiFi M1000 promises enough bandwidth and low latency to deliver “ultra-low lag” for VR headsets tethered via USB cable, and “near real-time” downloads of 4K and 8K videos with “virtually no buffering delays.” The hotspot can also connect up to 15 devices at once to share a 4G or 5G connection, including enterprise-grade security and firewall protection, which Verizon suggests could enable first responders to establish mobile command centers and enable all sorts of next-generation applications — telemedicine, real-time robotics, cloud AI, and more.

While Verizon notably isn’t offering quantifiable details on the MiFi M1000’s speeds, it is sharing a few other specs. There’s a 4,400mAh battery inside for up to 24 hours of connectivity, a large 2.4-inch color touchscreen, dual-band Wi-Fi 5 — notably without the Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) support promised last year — and your choice of tethered USB-C and Ethernet ports. The hotspot also has 32GB of its own memory, 6GB of RAM, and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 modem inside. It runs Inseego’s MiFi OS and unsurprisingly supports LTE Advanced for 4G when it’s not in an area with 5G.

One hitch, of course, is that Verizon’s list of 5G cities remains short at this point. The carrier is today adding “parts” of St. Paul, Minnesota, which joins previously announced cities Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, and Providence — nothing close to national coverage for the time being. When the MiFi M1000 leaves one of those areas, it falls back to Verizon’s LTE network, where download speeds are closer to 40Mbps than 400Mbps or the carrier’s 5G peaks in the 1-2Gbps range.

The MiFi M1000 sells for $650 outright, or $500 on a two-year contract, where it can be divided into 24 equal payments. There are two separate data plan options for the hotspot, neither with unlimited 5G service. Existing Verizon smartphone consumer customers with unlimited plans can get 50GB of 5G hotspot data and 15GB of 4G hotspot data for $30 a month, up $10 over 4G-only hotspot plans. Business customers with “unlimited” plans can get 35GB of “blended 4G/5G service” at a $15 premium, raising their monthly data price to $60.

In each case, the services continue to be unlimited but get significantly throttled. Consumers will fall back to 3Mbps speeds on 5G after the 50GB limit, and 600Kbps on 4G after the 15GB mark. Businesses’ speeds on “blended 4G/5G” will be brutally reduced to 200Kbps or lower across both networks, an even worse deal given that plan’s smaller data cap and higher monthly premium.

Customers interested in purchasing the MiFi M1000 can buy it today from Verizon’s website.

Source: VentureBeat