Tether your Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200 to your Mac

A while back I wrote a post about my experience searching for pre-paid mobile broadband. I ultimately chose Virgin Mobile USA as my provider but one thing that bugged me was that I had to use the MiFi 2200 mobile hotspot since there were no drivers for their USB dongles for OS X Lion.

I’ve always known that the MiFi could be tethered to a Mac using its USB cable, but I also thought that the drivers for Lion weren’t available.

As it turns out, I get the best of both worlds with the MiFI.

Either the drivers were recently update during an OS X Software Update or I just plain missed the fact that you can tether the MiFi 2200 to your Mac running OS X Lion. (At least using 10.7.2. I haven’t tried to tether using earlier versions of Lion.)

The process is simple:

1) Connect your MiFi to your Mac using its USB cable.

2) Go to the Airport menu in your dock, scroll down to the bottom and select “Open Network Preferences…”

3) Select “Novate…Modem” (Novatel Wireless Modem) from the list to the left.

4) Enter your Account Name (Device Phone Number) and Password (MSID) and click “Connect”

If your credentials are correct and your account balance is up-to-date, you’ll be online in a few seconds. 

Benefits to this Approach

  • If your Mac is plugged-in to AC power, you can work all day without worrying about the battery on your MiFi since it will be continually charged.
  • You can still share your 3G connection using your Mac’s ability to act as an ad hoc hot spot. (The WiFi is disabled on the MiFi when it’s charging.)
  • You don’t have to worry about all the interference on the 2.4 Ghz band (aka “The Junk Band”) that your MiFi uses for its hotspot. Since you’re getting your data over the wire, you mitigate any potential network latency that can be caused by the “3G > Hotspot > Computer” networking you have to perform when using the MiFi’s built-in hotspot.

Do you have any other tips for using mobile broadband with your Mac?

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