Like countless other Verizon MiFi users, I've been having terrible disconnect issues with the MiFi when it's in WiFi mode (it works fine in modem mode, but I hate modem mode - in WiFi mode you can share the connection with 5 users and you don't need to be running the VZ software, so it's much more usable... except for this vexing issue where the MiFi would disconnect & then reconnect from the VZ network every 30 to 90 seconds, basically making it unusable).
I wasn't alone with this problem - thousands (or tens of thousands?) of other MiFi users have been having it. In fact, there are countless posts on the Verizon Message Boards about this issue, like this one, and this one.
An especially good description of the problem was provided by Adam Tow on his personal blog.
I had previously called Verizon tech support, and after a painful escalation process to Tier 2 technical support, I was sent a new piece of MiFi hardware. This did not resolve the issue, and I put up with it for another 6 months.
Finally I got fed up, so I did what I do best: I contacted the CEO of Verizon and told him he had a problem on his hands. But why stop there? While I was at it, I contacted the entire Verizon executive suite. I've written before about how to get ahold of anybody in this blog about an AT&T issue, and this blog about trading up, and this blog about the secret to getting good press, so you should be able to discern from those blogs how I found the email addresses of everyone in the VZ executive suite. Here's the email I sent them:
Daniel, Ajay, Marni, Marquett, Margaret,
I'm sure you're all very busy. I hope you can take a moment to handle an issue from a longtime customer.
I'm writing you about a HUGE issue with your Verizon MiFi product that many users are having, yet tech support seems to be at a loss about how to fix.
The Verizon MiFi constantly disconnects when in WiFi mode. It's unusable. And I'm not the only one with this problem. Adam Tow (a producer of WSJ's All Things Digital) wrote an in-depth blog about this problem: http://www.tow.com/2010/04/30/verizon-mifi-disconnects-constantly-in-wifi-mode/ I'm cc'ing Adam on this email to see if he has any updates.
And there are even numerous threads about it on your own discussion boards:
Can you please tell me what you're doing to remedy this problem? I'm about to move to Sprint's 4G network, I'm so frustrated by the performance issues, which have been ongoing over the past 18 months.
Daniel Ruben Odio-Paez
PS - Can you beat my time of 0:50 in the F1 GeekSpeed Challenge?
For good measure, I found Adam Tow's email address, and cc'd him on the email. I had realized he's actually the senior producer for web & multimedia of the All Things D site published by the Wall Street Journal. I don't know if that encouraged the VZ Executive suite to respond to me or not (and in fairness to Adam, he had no idea I was doing this, so he was probably pretty surprised to be cc'd on the email, although he took it in stride and vouched for the fact he too was having the MiFi disconnect issue), but the next day, I had 3 senior Verizon representatives call me to try to help resolve my issue.
And the good news is, it was in fact resolved quickly by Verizon, so kudos for their "executive SWAT response team" acting quickly (if anyone at VZ reads this, I just wish your front-line tech support people were able to handle these issues so they didn't have to be escalated).
And the solution? Pretty simple, actually - you have to update the MiFi firmware. That can only be done on a PC, according to the VZ rep, so if you only have a Mac, you'll have to find a PC onto which you can update the firmware. It should go from version "135" to version "159" by the time you're done. Here's the exact email from the VZ rep:
Mr. Odio-Paez and Mr. Tow,
We believe we have isolated your issue. Our technician recommends upgrading the firmware on the MiFi devices. The upgrade will need to be implemented via a PC, and is bundled with the new VZAccess Manager 7.3.11 available at the following link www.vzam.net. Please let me know if you have any issue with upgrading the devices, as I realize the machines are Mac's. If this becomes the case, we can work through another solution. Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Now, my MiFi doesn't disconnect constantly, and it's actually usable again. I hope you can find some success with this firmware upgrade as well, and this is also a reminder not to settle - when you have a problem, do whatever you need to do to trade up until you find a solution, even if it means emailing the CEO of Verizon to get what you need.
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For those of you frustrated with the Verizon mifi box you'll appreciate the video I posted on YouTube. Just search "how to cancel your Verizon mifi contract"
"Please let me know if you have any issue with upgrading the devices, as I realize the machines are Mac's. If this becomes the case, we can work through another solution. Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you soon."
Comment meant. This means that he has a way to either allow the upgrade via the Mac systems or there may be another type (even short term til you could get to a Windows machine to borrow) of solution via the Mac use.
I realize this has been posted here for some time now, but can't believe this hasn't been questioned before.
Having holding a charge issue on mine, lasts maybe 2 hours on a full charge and dies. Is anyone else having this issue?
I realize it's been a while since I posed this, and I have to say, due to Daniel's email I did get a tier2/3 engineer calling me to resolve the issue. Long story short, they said they were going to send me out a 'new' device since mine was a 1st gen. I received my device, opened the box, and found a refurbished one in it. "Oh well, maybe this one will work" I said. And it did, mostly. My 5 minute disconnect turned back into a once a day. Very manageable and I was able to work from home again. Well fast forward to now, and it's not just disconnecting, it's locking up entirely. It will not allow new DHCP clients to connect, and for those that already were, the internet ceases to exist. I'm about to call Verizon support and see if I can get anywhere, but I thought I'd look you back up and give you an update. I still have no other internet option that supports VPN in my area, but hopefully I'll be moving later this year. Trust me when I say that land-line internet is a must have in the house hunt.
Thanks for your help before, I may need it again in the near future.
I have Mac's, iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro, I've had over 5 exchanges on this MiFi, new batteries (and only 3 months into this fiasco) and it STILL disconnects CONSTANTLY! AND, we put it in our office with NO MAC'S!!! and we're throwing it back to Verizon, we have lost SO MUCH $$$ and productivity, and our neighbors the SAME. We are constantly told, 'YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE'S!!!' with this issue, BS. I've worked with tech support, updated the firmware, etc. and our 2 in the office are less than 2 weeks old and we are lucky to have 30% on-line time.
VERIZON, BE HONEST and GET SERIOUS about this, WE'RE GOING ELSEWHERE, STOP LYING and GET THIS FIXED!!!
Working with Mifi number 3 fixing to be 4 since I got it in June of 2010. Having trouble with it heating up and then won't pick up a signal. Can cool it back down and it works fine until it heats up again. Have resorted to letting it sit on one of those blue ice packs so that it will stay cool. Anybody else reporting problems like this.
Yesterday, my iPhone stopped working. No warning, it just stopped receiving calls. I could still make calls, but not receive any.
After 2+ hours on the phone with both AT&T and Apple customer support, I got fed up, and I posted a YouTube video of my phone not working (see screenshot at left).
I also used www.Jigsaw.com (of which I am a member) to find a few VP-level AT&T employees, and I sent them this email:
I'm sure you're both very busy. I hope you have a minute to handle a customer issue.
Yesterday, my iPhone stopped working. No warning, it just stopped receiving calls. I could still make calls, but not receive any. After 2+ hours on the phone with both AT&T and Apple customer support, I got fed up, and I posted a YouTube video of my phone not working (see screenshot at left). I also used www.Jigsaw.com (of which I am a member) to find a few VP-level AT&T employees, and I sent them this email: Patty, Erika, I'm sure you're both very busy. I hope you have a minute to handle a customer issue. I was hoping there was someone within AT&T wireless' executive support I could speak to about a big problem with my AT&T iPhone. I posted a YouTube video explaining the problem (my phone often doesn't ring when people call me): And the most amazing thing happened. By this morning I had received a phone VM from the Virginia area regional customer service manager and the email below: "Daniel Ruben Odio-Paez, We have received notification of an issue with a wireless account. Unfortunately, we did not receive the wireless number or account number with the issue. We will need this information in order for us to better assist you. Thank You, Kim Kirtley Office of the President NE Region" It just goes to show you how aware even big companies are of the power of YouTube. The video had only gotten 23 views but it still garnered a very immediate response. Kim and the Virginia VP rep were both very helpful in getting my issue resolved, so I took the video down (I'm not trying to be mean, after all). I still can't fully recommend the iPhone because it's been so buggy, but at least now I have VP-level contacts I can call when I have my next problem.
One of the major advantages of having almost no possessions is that I can spend time to make sure that each thing I own really is the best possible product. I spend hours researching alternatives for just about everything major that I own, hoping to find something good enough to warrant the hassle and expense of replacing an existing piece of gear.
I got pretty lucky this time-- I have three new pieces of gear; two replaced more than one item, and all three cost less than I sold the old ones for.
I've written about my Epson R-D1s rangefinder a few times, and it's responsible for all of the pictures on my Flickr. I thought that I'd never give it up, but there's finally a new camera that is tempting enough to wrestle it out of my hands.