Sprint Gets MiFi Mobile Hotspot

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Novatel’s battery-powered mobile router, introduced by Verizon a few days ago, now has competition from Sprint, reports Engadet.

According to Sprint, its MiFi 2200 unit will be the first in the US to support MiFi’s GPS capabilities, allowing users to take advantage of select location and mapping applications. It enables users to connect up to five WiFi-enabled devices to Sprint’s EV-DO Rev. A network, and will be marketed in stores as the Sprint Mobile Hotspot. The up front cost is the same as Verizon — $99 after a $50 mail-in rebate (on a two-year agreement).

Sprint’s service plans differ from Verizon’s, however, with only two options:

  • $59.99 per month mobile broadband only plan (excluding taxes and surcharges)
  • $149.99 per month Simply Everything Plan + Mobile Broadband (phone plus device connectivity — excluding taxes and surcharges)

Verizon’s MiFi 2200 service plans include:

  • $39.99 monthly access for 250 MB monthly allowance and 10 cents per megabyte overage
  • $59.99 monthly access for 5 GB monthly allowance and 5 cents per megabyte overage

Verizon Wireless customers can also use a DayPass for $15 for 24-hour access when the device is purchased at full retail price without a monthly service plan.

Both plans include up to 5 GB per month and 5 cents per megabyte overage. Sprint’s version will be available in early June.

Sprint, however, also offers the Clear Spot Wi-Fi-enabled device ($139) which is also battery operated. It’s available at CLEAR stores or online.

The CLEAR Spot router, manufactured by CradlePoint, has WiMAX compatibility built in and uses an external USB dongle for WiMAX/Cellular backhaul. The 3G/4G USB Modem U300 is the first device that provides access to both EVDO and WiMAX networks. It is also compatible with HSDPA. Sprint has launched WiMAX networks in Baltimore, Portland and Atlanta.

I am using the Clear Hotspot around Portland, Oregon, and have automatically uploaded Geo-coded pictures to Flickr using the Eye-Fi SD card in my Canon Powershot camera. No computer necessary.

I took advantage of a recent Clear offer in Portland today. Now I have two Clearwire accounts; (1) unlimited home 6Mbps service and (2) unlimited 6 Mbps mobile service using a USB dongle. That cost me $55/month on a two year contract (plus $10/month for rental of both devices), for a total of $65/month.

If I plug both the USB and residential modems into my Cradlepoint MBR 1000 mobile router, I should be able to get load balancing with double the speed. I’ll check it out tonight.

UPDATE: Okay, I plugged both my WiMAX residential modem (3 out of 5 bars) and USB WiMAX modem into my Cradlepoint MBR 1000. But I got an unremarkable 4 Mbps down and 500 Kbps up. Not exactly scorching from two 6 Mbps backhauls. I’m getting two (actual) unlimited wireless broadband accounts for $65/month. If that combo could deliver 6-8 Mbps at home, I’d be a happy camper. I’ll fiddle with it.

The first time I tried it I discovered I hadn’t enabled load sharing. I might still have skipped some settings on the mobile router. Maybe I should read the manual. The Cradlepoint control panel is very complete with lots of options. I’m liking it.

FURTHER UPDATE: I talked to the tech at Cradlepoint and he told me that load balancing in their wireless router won’t add two broadband feeds together for double the throughput. It just maintains an equal load on both, so if one falls down in throughput, the other kicks in. But I can’t increase effective speed by summing both WiMAX clients together. Bummer.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Verizon’s MiFi Mobile Hotspot, Emergency Hot Spot, Clearwire Sued Over Early Termination Fees, Eye-Fi’s 4 GB Card & Clear Mobile Hotspot, Sprint’s WiMAX Rollout, CradlePoint: Mobile WiFi/WiMAX Hot Spots.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 at 10:06 am .

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