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ViViFi Wi-Fi hotspot review: ViViFi Wi-Fi hotspot

The technology behind the ViViFi is quite interesting, but the end results in terms of actual broadband speed leave a lot to be desired. Vividwireless is going to have to do a lot better than this to compete in the Australian mobile broadband space.

Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is a freelance word writing machine masquerading as a person, a disguise he's managed for over fifteen years now, including a three year stint at ZDNet/CNET Australia. He likes cats, retro gaming and terrible puns.
Alex Kidman
3 min read


ViViFi Wi-Fi hotspot

The Good

Good upload speeds. Simple operation. Wi-Fi security pre-enabled. Simple set-up. Unlimited data offering.

The Bad

Poor download speeds. Download speeds get worse on the move. Small overall broadband footprint.

The Bottom Line

The technology behind the ViViFi is quite interesting, but the end results in terms of actual broadband speed leave a lot to be desired. Vividwireless is going to have to do a lot better than this to compete in the Australian mobile broadband space.


The ViViFi is a mobile Wi-Fi router running on vividwireless' WiMax network across a limited broadband footprint that currently encompasses Perth, Melbourne and Sydney only. Like other mobile broadband hotspot routers, it resembles a rounded lozenge, although unlike competing offerings such as Virgin's Mobile Broadband WiFi Modem or Vodafone's Pocket WiFi it's a rather large item, more in line with the size of the average smartphone. Button controls are deliberately simple, with an on/off switch that also encompasses the battery meter, and lights on the body of the modem that display the current Wi-Fi and WiMax status.

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Unlike the competing modems from Virgin, Vodafone and Telstra, the ViViFi doesn't use a 3G network and instead relies on Vivid's WiMax network. The technology behind WiMax is quite interesting, but at this stage vividwireless' coverage map isn't all that widespread. Currently, the best coverage offered by vividwireless is in Perth, while the CBD (more or less) of both Melbourne and Sydney have coverage. Browsing vividwireless' coverage map in Sydney reveals some genuine quirks, like large patches of water with coverage right next to land that doesn't, and a tiny patch in the middle of Avondale Golf Club in Pymble that apparently has coverage. There's no coverage for kilometres around it, but presumably on about the ninth hole you're covered.

If you can't compete on coverage you'd better be ready to compete on price, and here vividwireless does offer some genuine value. At the lower end it's somewhat marginal, with an AU$19 per month 2GB plan, but if you've got the budget for it, and a desire for lots of data, AU$75 will buy you an unlimited data plan. Strangely, according to its web page, you could also spend the same AU$75 on a 25GB plan or AU$99 on a 40GB plan. There's an acceptable use policy in place, but it appears to apply equally in all plans.


The set-up of the ViViFi is impressively simple. It charges via micro USB, and the on/off button glows to represent current battery status. Security is enabled by default, with the password printed on the back of the modem itself. One side of the KITT-style LED on the front of the modem glows to indicate Wi-Fi status and the other to show the current strength of your WiMax connection.

We tested the ViViFi over a couple of days testing in the Sydney CBD, connecting it up to both a netbook and an iPhone 3GS and running the benchmark Speedtest.net over it multiple times.

First, the good news. In terms of upload speeds, the ViViFi performs very well indeed, averaging around 2.5-3Mbps in all of our tests. If you need a mobile broadband connection to send large files, this should suit nicely.

Flip the equation around, however, and things get worse. Much worse. We tested first at World Square in Sydney, just beneath CNET Australia's offices and struggled to hit 1Mbps in any test. Typical speed was more in the range of 300-600Kbps.

Testing the truly mobile aspect of the ViViFi, we took a walk with it along George Street in Sydney from the Rocks to Central Station. This only made matters worse, with speeds dipping into the sub 200Kbps space. Our rock bottom score was a paltry 4Kbps.

Settling in at Central Station on the country platforms and not moving at all did bring speeds back up, and indeed it was here that we hit our absolute best speed figure for downloads at 3.82Mbps.

3.82Mbps isn't to be sneered at in download terms — we've certainly seen worse from 3G services in various spots — but that was the single best case we could come up with for the ViViFi. We've had much better performance from every single 3G carrier than that, and across a much wider footprint than vividwireless currently offers.


It's early days for vividwireless' offerings and perhaps things may improve, but as it stands, despite the competitive pricing we'd still suggest opting for a mobile Wi-Fi router from any of the other 3G providers above the ViViFi.