When the first MiFi's came out I always referred to them as PocketSpots. Having used more than a few along the way, they were broadband on the go. I had a few of them from Novatel, most of which were initially locked down to AT&T or Verizon. There were more along the way from Sprint and T-Mobile too. As I traveled internationally I even bought a few out of the UK that were made by Huawei, and some via eBay. I remember one from Telstra in Australia that was great while I was there, as I could connect my MacBook without worry whne WiFi wasn't always there.
Yes, PocketSpots were the rage, at least until tablets and mobile hotspots on iPhones and Androids became so standard, and the mobile operators made the feature more accessible. Over time the hotspot manufacturers have had their ups and downs. Noavtel chenged their name to Inseego and others like Franklin Wireless have persevered
As Mobile World Congress draws near we can expect to see more news about 5G with hotspots being a starting point for it, as just like we saw with 3G, 4G and LTE. The reasoning, beyond history always repeating, is it will be easier for the mobile operators to sell pocket hotspots so people can connect their existing devices before the upgrade to new 5G ones. That's the result of the contracts that people are under, and how devices have been sold.
So what's going to happen with PocketSpots? Telstra and Verizon are already working with Inseego on 5G NR mobile hotspots, with the prospect of seeing PocketSpots in hand by Q2 of this year. The name, MiFi will go away, making way for something more relevant and today. And just like with the MiFi's the new 5G devices will bring access to faster and more robust services long before the phones, tablets and PCs can connect.