Views from Phanfare CEO and Co-founder Andrew Erlichson

Link I love my new Verizon iPhone

I am traveling down Interstate 91 South in New Hampshire, returning from my 20th Dartmouth Reunion, enjoying pretty decent data access on my iPhone 3G, even though there is zero ATT service on this stretch of the road. I am getting a few hundred kilobits/second.

Ok, there is one small detail I a left out. I am using a MiFi 2200 Wi-Fi hotspot in the car. This little device, smaller than a deck of cards, connects to the Verizon data network, establishes and EvDO connection, and puts up Wi-Fi cloud around itself.

Using the MiFi, my iPhone is essentially a Verizon iPhone. I use data more than voice, so this really does bring the better Verizon coverage to my iPhone. The device is battery operated, although you can plug it in or attach it via USB to a charging source, such as the 12-volt adapter in the car.

No doubt, this is an expensive solution. The Verizon EvDO card is over $60/month. But, truth-be-told, I have had EvDO service for over 4 years now since I find it useful when traveling. The sad truth is that while the ATT 3G network is faster than the Verizon data network when it is available, it is often not available.

When we hike out west I like having the security of a cell phone when we are on the trail. This is the first summer in 11 years where I don’t own a Verizon cell phone, and it will be nice to have the security of the Verizon network while using my iPhone.

The Mi-Fi is not perfect. I found that after being idle for several hours, it turns off the Wi-Fi network and hence essentially needs to be rebooted before you can use connected devices again. But given that it is close at hand, this is not too much of an inconvenience.

As an added bonus, the Mi-Fi supports up to 5 devices (a limitation probably imposed by Verizon) and so my laptop and my old iPhone, which is now the family iPod Touch, can also be on the network.

Carrying your own personal Wi-Fi cloud has never been easier. You could do it using a variety of devices for the past few years, but they were big and clunky and required multiple pieces of hardware. The Mi-Fi gives you a very convenient form-factor and built in battery that makes the concept significantly more useful. And by letting you share the expensive EvDo connection, it also makes Verizon’s EvDo service more economical.

  • Brian

    It wouldn't be surprising to see the next iPod Touch with cell network connectivity (like netbooks and e-readers), quite possibly with Verizon. Lets hope they throw in a gps too. With unlimited 3g bandwidth and price under $50/mo it would serve me well using VOIP for those rare phone calls. Ooh, maybe a google voice SIP client!

  • erlichson

    Seems like if you add a cellular radio to a touch, it's called an iphone ;-)

  • bshure

    I upgraded from USB verizon EVDO card to MiFi as soon as I saw the announcement. I can plug it into my computer and use it like the old card, or use it like a wireless access point.

    It makes my ipod touch almost an iphone, and best of all, no AT&T.

  • Brian

    Exactly, but if brought to market as a netbook-like device without an associated phone number, it would be very appealing to many. Not everyone needs the highest quality voice connections….or the ~$130/mo bill.

    If carriers are allowing netbooks to connect for $40-60/mo, there is no reason Apple can't work a deal with a 'Connected Touch'. ATT might be turned off by the idea so I suppose Verizon would be the likely alternative… with the rumors and all. It might even be tweaked to share its 3g with wifi clients! 3rd party tweak no doubt.

  • Brian

    unlike the iPhone, Touch doesn't have gps, camera, compass, accelerometer or microphone…. yet.

    Bluetooth was only recently activated. Unfortunately, it only supports A2DP stereo headsets.

  • erlichson

    Touch definitely has an accelerometer and you can use headphones with a built in mic (so it must have a mic input)

  • Brian

    Oops you're right, duh. Sure, you can connect a mic and also an external gps receiver, but it's not really an iPhone just by adding 3g.

    I believe Apple can still differentiate the products and release a Touch to support 3g data and voip for significantly less cost. If not, they stand to lose ground to the host of other manufacturers.

  • Brian

    iPod 3G

  • cell phone lookup

    I have the same model. It broke, I bought an iPhone. The iPhone rules.

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