Virgin Mobile Mifi-Anybody Tried It Yet

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Bulldog3777, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. Bulldog3777 macrumors 6502

    Apr 2, 2009
    I have the MBP 13 and was just wondering if anyone had any experiences with this Mifi or comments about Sprint Mobile.
  2. c.s. macrumors regular


    Nov 11, 2007
    Took it on a road trip today and it was outstanding. Had my MBP, iPad, and iPod touch connected to it as all were in use by the family. But it does get HOT. I posted on another thread that I tested my download speed and it was 2.2 Mbps. Overall the reception was good from Dallas all the way to St. Louis.
  3. Bulldog3777 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 2, 2009
    Virgin Mobile

    I went ahead and got one and so far it has been great. Had a little trouble setting it up due to the fact that Virgin Mobile was clogged with new ones and phone help was over whelmed. Kept having to activate it and Virgin said it was the network. Once I did it worked beautifully, so far at least.
  4. wyre macrumors newbie

    Jul 9, 2010

    Set it up last nite. Ran into some trouble using firefox during configuration, so I quit and switched to safari, which it seemed to like better. It took a little longer than I'd expected to configure,and there are a few odd omissions or confusing things in the docs. I'd recommend downloading the PDF from the virginmobileusa site first before trying to get one up and running, because the docs that come in the box are pretty sparse. As for usage - so far , so good. Last nite I was getting about 1.5 down on macbook pro, and today speedtest is showing 2.5 down. It doesn't seem to know where I am - at one point it connected me to texas, another time to San Francisco, and I had to manually choose my actual East Coast location ( that last tower is less than a mile from my home but it didnt connect to it automatically -- odd?). I also connected to ipod touch at the same time. It's not fast, but it's adequate for times when you need to connect and I think it'll be handy -- still dont have a real sense of how much data I'll be using -- got the $20 /30 day = 300 MB to start. Figured it would give me time to fiddle around with it - I would not try to use video on it. Downloading mobile opera browser for touch - might be better to have an option to turn off graphics if you'r running low on MB. I have yet to try it out on the road, but at least for home use, I know it'll be handy in case the cable goes out. At office reception is iffy because of the building construction -- I will have to wait til next week to test that, but initial impression is , it's a keeper. It's a lot flimsier than it looks in the pictures -- metal colored plastic (which is no doubt better for reception, but kind of cheesy). The battery door feels flimsy, and charging cable connector feel kind of cheap but it fired up right away and the battery seemed to charge fast. So far, so good....

    notes on configuration. I changed the ssid, changed admin password, haven't changed the log in password yet (since it's printed on the device), but probably will change it to something easier to remember, since I've had to manually log in when switching from my regular wifi to this. It may behave differently when away from home, so waiting to see . Set it for g only, not b/g, figuring that might speed things up. When jumping between networks as you set up and test, be careful that your computer doesn't pick up your other wifi -- that threw me for a few minutes. I finally ended up unplugging the airport so as to avoid any confusion. The set up menus are pretty straightforward... not sure which if any of the options work best, so I have some experimenting to do. I haven't figured out how to change the configuration when you're out on the road -- for example, if you want to set up a shared network, I guess you have to log out then back in again. Not too worried, since I dont plan to let others piggyback too often. Ipod touch seemed a bit slower than macbookpro 'connection speed' -- but it may just have been a network traffic issue. Will report back if anything weird happens, but so far... I'm liking it. Just wish it were faster.

    Sprint overdrive was my Plan B, since that offers unlimited 4g, but I wasn't sure the 4g network was ready for prime time, and I wasn't liking the idea of a 2 yr contract. So.... VM seemed like a great solution. Always liked their phones. Only quibble is that I dont like the fact the data you purchase expires at the end of the month -- you pay for x amount, you should get that amount, regardless of when you use it -- just as they do with phone minutes, the balance should 'roll over' and remain in your account til you use it up. If that were in place I'd have stocked up on the 5 GB option instead, so as to always have the access handy. This way, it feels a little intrusive - you're always aware of the clock ticking as you are using it. Do I have enough time? etc etc It's contract free, but a little restrictive, which is a weird mix. I'm hoping they come to their senses and open the plan options up a bit more once this takes off. If I find myself using it a lot, or if I'm planning a trip, I would spring for the 5 gb plan, but since usage tallies are still an unknown, figured I'd pay a little more per mb and experiment, so as to not lose the leftovers at the end of the month.
  5. Bulldog3777 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 2, 2009
    Virgin Mobile Mifi

    Mine might be fixed. This morning I checked my usage and it had changed from not using any mbs in 8 days to using .03 mbs. Downloaded a Youtube video and checked again. Now 2mbs used. Hopefully it is now working properly.
  6. Capt T macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2010
    I had the USB stick ( using a cradlepoint PHS300 with it) with them already so had to call to get it switched over to the mifi. Really like the mifi so far. Can access all the router configurations from my iPad. It did lose the service once on the Monday when they were supposed to launch ( Bestbuy had them out on Sunday when I got it) but was able to sign in from the iPad and it started right back up. Probably as was said, it was from all the new ones. Has worked great since. Like the form factor.

    Looking for a small case for it. I have a small bag for if I am just taking the iPad and it has a decent pocket for it but when I have the MBP would like something to make sure the on button doesn't get pushed accidentally.
  7. Bulldog3777 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 2, 2009
    Virgin Mobile Mifi

    Still working!!!!!!!
  8. wyre macrumors newbie

    Jul 9, 2010
    I like mine, as well. Only little glitch was that I accidentally pushed the button and it was on all night (as I had finally figured out how to make it not turn itself off - the NEVER wasn't 'taking' at first and it was going off, so I reset it to 30 mins, then back to NEVER , which finally took. Then I must have pushed the button inadvertently, cause the following morning the red (battery) light was blinking. Recharged and all ok. I noticed (using "mi fi " app for ipod touch) that the battery warning light went on when the mifi app was saying there was 50 per cent left. Not sure which was right. I also noticed that when trying to top off the battery after short use, since I was going to be out for the day, the charge light did not come on -- just the green light. Apparently you have to run it down a bit more than I had before it can properly 'recharge'.

    So far I like having it with me a lot, but cant quite get a handle on usage. My time finally started getting deducted two days ago. Up to then no time was coming off the meter, which was steady at 300 MB. I'm averaging about 20 mb an hour.

    Getting a worse signal at work than at home -- it 's slow, but still usable . At home it's getting between 1.5 and 2.5 Mbps download. At work, it was about .3 . May just be a location thing, but it was odd, since even up on the roof, where the signal was very strong (4 bars), it was still really slow. Maybe too many people using it at once?

    Lots to figure out. It's a bit faster on the laptop than on the ipod touch. Again, not sure if that's location or equipment related.

    So far so good... For now I'm keeping it in a camera case along with the ipod touch (*which is in a hard case of its own) = they both fit side by side. But you're right , something a little sturdier might be good. Maybe a wallet or an eyeglass case would offer protection I dont think that compromises the signal, but need to experiment to be sure the placement isn't affecting the quality of the connection.

    Wondering about a firmware update -- on the Sprint/Verizon side, there's a configuration updatae option but that's not (yet) on our software. there's a fix so you can keep the wifi while you're plugged in by USB .... I'm looking into those, but for now (first 30 days) I think I will use it 'naturally' and see how it's working. I would love to use a 4g device instead, but I dont think Sprint is offering enough of an improvement speed & coverage wise in this location (theoretically it could replace cable, but in reality, maybe 2 or 3 mbps and spotty coverage) to justify a high monthly fee and 2 yr contract. Looking into Clear, but again, since I doubt I will use this much, but will be very glad to have it handy when I need it, pay as you go seems ideal. Tricky to remember to recharge it if you're not using it all the time - so have to work out that 'routine.' I'm not sure if the "standby" time refers to time it's plugged in but not being accessed, or if it refers to battery keeping the charge even though the device is OFF. Anyone know?
  9. striders macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2009
    Where are you guys located? I have been having bad signal, speed, and consistency problem since I got it from Best Buy the day of its launch.

    I. Speed
    I get, on average, about 40 Kbps. The fastest I get was 800 Kbps, but only for about 1 minute.

    II. Signal consistency.
    This is the biggest problem. Mifi will show it's connected to EVDO and have full bar, but either the speed is really slow or...there's just no Internet connection at all.

    I tried this with iPad, MacBook, iPhone and a Windows XP laptop. I tested this in:
    - New York
    - Los Angeles
    - San Francisco
    - Denver

    I swapped the device with Best Buy and same problem remains.

    In contrast, my iPhone 3GS with MyWi works 90% of the time and the only thing it fail is in a location where tons of people are using AT&T network. (HINT: New York, near Central Park and Apple Store).

    I just think Virgin Mobile network is not ready (they're Spring MVNO) or the device need firmware upgrade badly. Head to and you'll see many people complaining about the Mifi device in general.

    Interestingly, not so much signal and speed issue with Sprint own branded Mifi device....
  10. TechKnow macrumors member


    Jun 18, 2010
    I was thinking the same thing. The fastest connection I have had so far is 750 Kbps. I have only had it for 24 hours. I was thinking maybe Sprint throttles the speed down for Virgin Mobile.
  11. striders macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2009
    That's not bad at least you get consistent speed.

    My experience is just the opposite. Even if I get full bars, I got less than 750 Kbps or sometimes just no Internet connectivity at all...
  12. wyre macrumors newbie

    Jul 9, 2010
    Washington, DC = getting between 750kbps and 1 Mbps (sometimes less if deep within a building and less than full bars), but a little further uptown I'm still able to get up to 2.5 during "non-peak" hours (early am and late at night). Usually getting about 1.5 Mbps these days at home, but it is capable of more. I'm pretty close to a sprint tower, so that may be the reason

    EDIT - (sigh) I spoke too soon. Major melt down today. It kept saying my account wasn't activated (but what it really meant was I had no connection). I was in a location that made it hard to tell if it was a signal issue or a hardware problem. Went through an hour w/ tech support later in the day and basically he gave up, wrote up a ticket, and I'm still waiting for a call back. I figured out how to revive it on my own while I was waiting ... long story, but let's just say it was very frustrating. I think it actually was a network problem and I was troubleshooting it as though it was a hardware issue, but I did take out the battery and reset (while on), and finally managed to get back into the admin console (which was the network problem, I think). I cant be sure exactly what fixed it... everything resets to factory log in, so I went back and changed my customized settings again -seems ok now, but speed a little slower (about 1.2 mbps) . I think G is a lot more reliable than b/g connection. Something was disconnecting me, and since I've switched to all G, it seems better

    More info -- I also discovered during my little mifi troubleshooting that you cannot reach virginmobile.mifi (to access the admin panel) if you are using Open DNS name servers - the address wont resolve. So, if you get stuck where I did (with no way to connect to the VM mifi web interface), just use a different device, or delete the DNS name server numbers from your network preferences, temporarily. You may be able to access the same admin pages via (it says that you can in the manual, but I haven't tested that with the DNS numbers in place, yet.) Worth a try, if you get stuck and find yourself unable to reset or log into the mifi account info.
  13. wyre macrumors newbie

    Jul 9, 2010
    Another update:

    Got a call back from second-tier tech support (after I had fixed it myself) and took the opportunity to talk with the guy about a few other issues I'd been concerned about. He confirmed that we need reset the mifi while it is ON, not off --as the lower level tech guy had instructed me, and you need to hold it til you see it has restarted (blinking lights). Also asked him about firmware updates -- he suggested they want it to be a freestanding device not one that relies on a computer -- so, reading between the lines, I'm not sure that bodes well for future firmware updates. If Sprint is an indication , they do it through the control panel , so presumably VM will do the same if/when there is an update. I have noticed a weird behavior when recharging, so I asked about that too. Not sure I have an answer, but here'the situation --if the battery is not sufficiently depleted and you plug it in to top off the battery (for example, if you're leaving for the day and want a full charge so you'll have 4 hrs), the mifi glows green -- as though it's fully charged -- not amber.... so there's no visual confirmation that it's charging. Dont be tricked by seeing the green light into thinking your battery has a full charge -- you can check the web interface to confirm that it's charging (blinking icon) but on the device itself, I only see the amber charging light if the battery has been run way down, more than 1/2 depleted. It would be easy to think you're leaving with a full battery when in fact it's only charged half, or more likely 3/4 of the amount. I wonder if this confusion may be contributing to the complaints about short battery run time?

    Oh, and he confirmed that the best way to access the software is to use (not virginmobile.mifi) if you are using a browser (such as Chrome) that will not let you go to unresolved DNS numbers or if you are using Open DNS in firefox or Safari and find that it balks when you try to go to a non-URL, telling you there is no network connection. I suspect a large percentage of the complaints about not being able to reach the admin page could easily be eliminated if that were standard tech support info -- it would save a lot of time. I had to figure it out by trial and error. The mifi is a modem, of sorts, so it seemed logical that you could access it by IP the same way you do when trying to read config on a cable modem, etc. I tried it, and yep, there it was. So, if you find that you cant get there , try using the IP number instead of virginmobile.mifi and you should be able to find your control panel page. Final reminder, if you do reset your mifi, you lose any custom settings, so it will revert to default log in of "admin" and the number and password on the back of the device. It also reverts to default settings like wifi b/g etc so if you've customized at all, you need to reset those preferences.

    I still have no explanation for why it lost its identity (just because there was no signal?) and kept returning "your account is inactive" messages. Freaky, but ... essentially harmless. You can save yourself a few hours if you try these steps first before calling tech support ...

    One still mysterious question - not sure why thinks I'm in San Francisco (when I'm on the opposite side of the country). Wonder if that might be the cause of some slow speed issues for people? I didnt see a way to select a location in the config . (Area code of account? ) Anyone else seeing that oddity? Certainly might explain the excessively long pings when trying to access a local server for the speed test. I'm only a few blocks from a sprint tower, so it's weird to be calling from San Francisco....

    Attached Files:

  14. Tmacfan4321 macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2007
    University Park, PA
    I just use my rooted HTC Incredible as a mobile hotspot. I don't get charged the extra money for having a MiFi and I don't have to carry around another device.
  15. ihonda macrumors 68000

    Sep 17, 2009
    sweet for you! but thats totally off the topic of this entire post!
  16. Tmacfan4321 macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2007
    University Park, PA
    Pot, meet Kettle.
  17. alberoli macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2010
    VM Mifi + MBP + IPT = Woe is me.

    Reading this thread was greatly informative, yet I still want to get some help. I am not a total tech but I can keyboard my way around and get into trouble, so I figure you all may be able to comment on some things about this mifi deal.

    Got VM Mifi and hooked it up, impressed that it even worked. I got my MacBookPro and my iPodTouch on quickly, using Firefox to connect. And the experience was everything people here reported, dodgy instructions (I had the included booklet plus downloaded pdf), difficult and stop start with the connecting and starting up an account (yes you must have wireless or wired Internet backup it seems just to pull it off). Maybe Sprint or whoever is yanking some bandwidth, who knows? And yes I bet it does receive better in the open air but I am in a pre-war building near NYC and my windows face a wide courtyard (I put the unit near the window to pull in the precious signal). Bars so far stay up on MBP, IPT is little wavers depending on where you hold it, etc. Then trouble came to town.

    I messed around with adding the addresses of both devices on the Mac Filter in the 192 address (VM Mobile Hotspot Home controller interface). I guess that was silly since I only just read what they do. I copied down the six sets of numbers and letters and proudly typed them in, thinking it would be more security for my little network. It was mentioned later in the tech call that is possibly the source of my problem.

    My Mac Filter action kicked off the MBP, though the IPT could still connect, yet not to the controller. So I reset the thing, and it kept being asked to log in by built in airport to both VM and my machine's login. Phone call one to VM got me a trouble ticket and no serious tech support (promised a callback in 24-72 hours), I also sent an email through the VM Broadband website. I got an answer the next day telling me I have an incident report. Round and round I went. I was thinking of ditching it altogether.

    Next morning, I charged it up and got in to the controller with the IPT, disabled the Mac Filter and everything went back on. I wrote VM and told them to cancel both trouble tickets, which was probably a mistake. I noticed the speed (which was slow-ish to begin with, compared to Comcast Internet, really crawling, pages hung, and YouTube (what's that?).

    Also, at some point in my travels I saw that the ipv4 setting was on an address .2 different than the router which is .1 , otherwise identical. Does that make any difference? What specific settings should I tweak in the controller on 192 (VM Mobile Hotspot thingy) to make them all play nice? Should I call VM again? Does the MBP or IPT have settings I should check or change? I read about turning the Mifi around physically yet bars are strong on MBP and up and down on VM connector on 192.

    After I found this forum, I changed my settings to "g" after reading one post, and saw a kind of difference right away but just with page loading?

    Before forum speedtest was paltry and less than people reported, and I joined just so I could ask if there is anything anyone can help me with regarding settings, speedtest results, and so on.

    And yes, San Francisco is what I got pushed out to as well, I pushed over the map until I got to NJ/NY and it tested sending the signal from there to SF! I have no idea what it means, but anyway here they are:

    Pre-Forum: 1.34Mbps DOWN .36Mbps UP
    Post-Forum (as of this post, I did worse): 731kbps DOWN 448kbps UP
    As I said, this sounds slow compared with reports on this forum.

    Any advice you can give about where I should click and what I should hit to adjust this mifi would be just great!


    PS - As an added bonus, I missed the a VM BB tech call later today at work, no number, just "we'll call ya back".
    Today's speedtest was also lousy (.29 and .34...really guys?) but it did find that I am near NYC and send the signal from Philly.

  18. wyre macrumors newbie

    Jul 9, 2010
    I've been getting really crummy speeds lately on my mifi - hovering at about .20 0r .30, when it used to on rare occasion get up to 2 Mbps or so. Today I got a note from VM saying that they're going to be THROTTLING speed after you hit 5 gb. How can it possibly get any slower? This service has been a disappointment from day one - I like the concept of using mifi with an ipod touch, and it's come in handy on a few occasions, but I can't honestly say it's worth $40 a month at these speeds, except in dire emergencies. They changed the plan within a month of purchasing it, forcing us fro $20 to $40, now they are 'throttling' . I realize, in reality, it's unlikely that I'll ever get to 5 gb,because at these speeds, it'd probably take a month to download that much data, but... I dont like the way they keep changing the rules, rather than improving the service. This might be the end of the line for me and VM.

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