To connect multiple devices to the Internet, MiFi networks are a great alternative to WLAN routers and mobile hotspots. A pocket-sized MiFi device creates an ad hoc network wherever you go, provided it’s within your carrier coverage area. On rare occasions, your MiFi may fail to connect, even though the hardware isn’t damaged. If you’re facing this issue, follow the steps below to troubleshoot MiFi connection problems and reset your Internet access.
What is a MiFi Device?
MiFi and portable Wi-Fi hotspots refer to an Internet access device with a SIM card inserted, combining the features of a modem and a router. Like a traditional router, it supports the latest Wi-Fi standards (up to Wi-Fi 6). There is an SSID/pass key used by other devices to connect online.
However, MiFi also works as a SIM card-operated modem connecting to next-generation mobile data standards, such as 4G and 5G. In some locations, MiFi may be a registered trademark, but many manufacturers freely use this term. This tutorial only refers to MiFi as a generic gadget.
With the ongoing rollout of 5G in certain parts of the world, 5G MiFi devices are becoming popular. In the US, Inseego 5G MiFi M2000 comes with a T-Mobile 5G SIM card and provides Wi-Fi 6, the current fastest Wi-Fi standard. It also provides WPA3 protocol security and enterprise-grade VPN access, making it one of the best MiFi devices you can buy.
Depending on your location, you’ll also find 4G MiFi devices by Verizon, Alcatel-Lucent, Netgear, Huawei, Novatel, D-Link, ZTE, and many others.
Why Is My MiFi Showing No Internet?
If your MiFi is not connecting to the Internet, you need to follow some key steps to get back online. In the following guide, we demonstrate the troubleshooting for the Huawei E5220. Many of these steps are common to other MiFi devices, but you should always refer to the specific instructions for your carrier.
1. Check Your Account Status for Any Service Discontinuity
If your MiFi device is unable to get online, first check whether your account is in good standing. Unpaid bills are a leading cause of service discontinuity. Whichever carrier supports your MiFi connectivity, immediately contact the customer care phone number for current account status. Clear any outstanding dues, and the Mi-Fi green lights will be blinking in no time!
2. Make Sure You’ve Correctly Configured Your MiFi Device
If your MiFi device is failing to connect, you need to check whether you’ve correctly configured it. First, ensure that the MiFi is not turned on. Next, run your fingers along its edges until you feel a gap, then gently pull it open with a paper clip or your nails and remove the battery. Make sure the SIM card is in its place (more on this later). Reinserting the battery will restart your network access.
3. Check Your MiFi Connectivity Status
If you are connecting the MiFi device to your laptop/desktop, you can easily check the admin web user interface to see whether the data packets are being sent and/or received. You can easily find the IP address in the MiFi back panel beneath the battery compartment. In this case, it is 192.168.1.1.
If WLAN status shows as “off” or there is no exchange of data packets, there may be an issue connecting to the data provider, a misconfiguration of its network settings, or your data cap may have been reached (if your account has a data limit). Check with your data provider to see whether they are having issues with the network, which is mostly temporary. Also, verify that you have not exceeded the daily limits on your current data plan.
4. Check MiFi LED Indicator Status
Depending on your MiFi device type, you can check the connection status indicated by a different LED color on the device. Universally, a blinking green light means that your MiFi is successfully connected to your service provider’s data network, in which case there should be no further network issues.
However, if you are still unable to connect on your laptop, phone, or tablet, check whether if it has been tethered properly. Also, the hotspot has to be within a certain range. For example, T-Mobile recommends its MiFi to be within 15 feet of your target device. Check with your service provider for details.
If there is no light, it means that the device is not receiving power, and you need to connect the MiFi charging port to a computer, smart plug or wall charger (AC). A red light universally means that all signals to the MiFi have been blocked.
5. Remove and Reinsert the SIM card
Sometimes, due to sudden movement of the MiFi, loose debris or dirt, the SIM card may get detached from its slot.
All you need to do is remove and reinsert the SIM card. First, remove the battery from the compartment.
You should now see a SIM card cover that you can flap open and close easily. It will easily release the SIM card, which you can put aside for a while. You can use a port-cleaning brush, cotton swab, or a microfiber cloth to do the cleaning. Reinsert the SIM card until it locks into the slot properly.
6. Do a MiFi Factory Reset
This goes hand in hand with the above step. Resetting a MiFi device is the best way to deal with all connectivity problems. If there’s nothing wrong with the MiFi hardware, and your carrier says there are no problems with the Internet, consider doing a factory reset of your MiFi device to get back online quickly.
There is a reset button in the back panel. Use a pin to press it for 5 to 10 seconds. The MiFi device will automatically reset. Restart your MiFi using the Power button and check the connectivity again.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does MiFi increase Internet speed?
A MiFi doesn’t increase Internet speed on its own other than what the carrier provides. However, you can purchase a MiFi signal booster that repeats the network’s signal to give improved Internet speed.
2. Which is better: MiFi or tethering?
Both MiFi and a portable hotspot on a smartphone (tethering) allow access to multiple devices. However, MiFi is certainly a better choice, as unlike a smartphone set as a Wi-Fi hotspot, it won’t get overheated. It also enjoys much greater battery life. If you want reliable, continuous, 24/7 Internet, a MiFi gives you more options than tethering.
Image credit: Masaru Kamikura @ Flickr
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Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over eleven years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.