A Tale Of Two MiFis: 3 Nabs Novatel’s Name
3 has launched a pocket hotspot service under the name MiFi – even though there’s already a device of that name from Novatel
Mobile operator 3 UK has announces a portable Wi-Fi hotspot for mobile broadband, in time for Christmas, cheekily calling its service MiFi, after the name of a rival device.
3′s MiFi service uses a pocket device to share a wireless 3G broadband service using a small Wi-Fi hotspot. The pocket hostpot can be bought for £99.99 with 3GB of prepaid data, or else for £69.99 on a £15 monthly 5GB contract.
The 3 service uses the Huawei E583X wireless modem (below left), launched earlier this year – but the 3 service has the same name as a rival pocket hotspot device from Novatel, the MiFi (below right), which eWEEK Europe reviewed in June.
The operator is well aware of the name clash, and says it owns the MiFi trademark in the UK, where it refers to a service, not a hardware device: “We’re allowed to use it when describing our service,” said a 3 spokesperson. The 3 press release slides the distinction in neatly: “‘MiFi’ and its device is a registered trademark of Hutchison 3G UK Ltd,” it says.
This sort of distinction is clearly too precise for some people: Telecoms.com includes details and a picture of the Novatel device in a story about the 3 service.
With Wi-Fi enabled devices proliferating – such as netbooks, iPods and other phones – the need for a device to share a broadband link has become more obvious, and Novatel and Huawei have both responded with similar products. “You can connect multiple devices to the internet at the same time, so while you are checking e-mails on a netbook, you can also download a track from iTunes onto your iPod touch,” promises the 3 press release.