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Which is better: a full size 3G WiFi Router or a Mi-Fi for a small office?

By Wayan Vota on September 24, 2012

3g router

Small business contribute close to 20% of Kenya’s GDP, and many of them now require Internet access for basic productivity and communication tasks. While I’ve seen whole offices full of laptops, each with their own USB 3G dongle, centralizing Internet access via a single router has advantages.

The question is: should a small business use a full-sized 3G WiFi router, like Orange Kenya suggests or would a simple Mi-Fi device be better, like Mr. Mobility recommends?

Of course, a WiFi router connected to a high-speed Internet connection would be the best. That way, staff could see blazing fast connections like this 21 Mbps blast.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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3 Comments to “Which is better: a full size 3G WiFi Router or a Mi-Fi for a small office?”

  1. Tim Denny says:

    I bought a full sized 3g wifi router last year in Hanoi for about $25USD this model but an older design http://www.tp-link.com/en/products/details/?categoryid=218&model=TL-MR3220 from the start this purchase made more sense to me than a Mifi… why?
    large external antenna – 5dbi – removable antennae thus you could make changes
    cheaper price – $25 versus about $100 for a mifi
    4 LAN ports… has come in handy during training workshops where participant computers did not have Wifi

    I have little experience with Mifi…. but one concern for me would be the 3g radio frequency… when purchasing one you would need to make sure that it supports the 3g service available in your location. with a 3g router the 3g radio is on your USB dongle…. which to me is another advantage as you can swap out 3g dongles, or even plug it into LAN if available…


  2. Anonymous says:

    this is a very important question for the benefit of our partnership going back to 1988

  3. Tim Denny says:


    Amended to my previous thought on this issue I want to put another vote in for a 3g wifi router… I just installed Ubuntu Server on a desktop which I have loaded with Limesurvey and Open Journal System in preparation for a 4 day training event.

    I bought a TP-link 3g wifi AP recently as it looked nice… smaller than the 4 port router and kind of cute. I thought I would be able to plug it into my server and offer wifi access to participants. Well — as far as I can figure out the single LAN port is only good for configuration, it does not allow routing. Fine enough so I need to go back to my 3g wifi router (4 port version) so I can configure a static IP and offer 3g enabled wifi to the participants.

    My guess is that mifis are fine for internet only access in a country of choice, but once you need to go a bit more creative – for training events, etc… then a mifi is only good to access internet not good for my purposes.