Mobile hotspot technology is a mobile WiFi router that can connect to a cellular network and act as an intermediary hotspot for other wireless devices. They are compact enough to fit in someone’s hand, but the newer models will be able to offer up to 12Mbps download speeds. These devices are machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies, and this type of wireless communication is regarded as essential to the Internet of Things (IoT). The devices themselves are fairly recent, but history of mobile hotspot technology predates cellular technology.
A Brief History of M2M and Mobile Hotspot The term M2M is rather broad, and can be traced to the early days of computer networking. Cell phones can also be considered M2M devices, since they form part of a chain of machines that communicate: cell phones talk to cell towers, which talk to the internet, to other cell towers, which talk to cell phones. Early M2M wireless technology was introduced in the mid-nineties by Siemens, with a mobile data module and a cell phone intended for industrial use. Technology such as this became used in point-of-sale terminals at retail outlets, in vehicle telematics, and more. By the late nineties, large companies were embracing M2M’s widespread applications. Novatel, a San Diego-based company, became a pioneer of M2M solutions, and owns patents to over thirty technologies, including MiFi devices. Novatel owns the trademark to the term “MiFi” in the United States and several other countries. The term was introduced with Novatel’s first MiFi device in 2009. Novatel’s early devices were capable of connecting up to five devices through its hotspot, while later MiFi devices are able to connect up to ten. Novatel’s MiFi technologies continued to advance in the early 2010s, as they targeted the automotive market with fixed telemetry and telematics. The firm began using MiFi to connect many other devices directly to the internet, such as video surveillance cameras, point-of-sale systems, and digital signs. They developed device managers that connect various MiFi-capable devices: device managers are machines that can configure, update, and manage a deployment of various devices. Other companies around the world are developing similar technology to connect multiple devices via wireless networks. This trend toward more integrated M2M networks will form the foundation and framework of the IoT. And, as the IoT develops even further, the need for integrated device networks and MiFi technology will only grow.