3 Comments

Summary:

Updated: Sprint has launched its second combination device that supports both 3G and 4G networks — the U301. This USB device works on the new CLEAR WiMAX network, which is partially owned by Sprint, and rolls back to EVDO or 1xRTT when not in a WiMAX […]

Image Credit: Sprint

Updated: Sprint has launched its second combination device that supports both 3G and 4G networks — the U301. This USB device works on the new CLEAR WiMAX network, which is partially owned by Sprint, and rolls back to EVDO or 1xRTT when not in a WiMAX coverage area. That gives users the chance to experience an average download of 3-6 Mbps on WiMAX and around 1 Mbps on EVDO. The device is supported on Microsoft Windows 7, Vista and XP, as well as Mac OS X 10.5 and up. Retail price for the adapter is $349, but Sprint is offering a $299 instant rebate and $50 mail-in rebate, bringing the net hardware cost to zero. With 3G plans starting at $59.99 a month, the hybrid plan offers cheap coverage insurance for an additional $10 a month — $69 monthly gets you both 3G and 4G service. Keep in mind that you still only have 5 GB of data to chew through on both networks combined. Update: Sprint does offer unlimited usage of the 4G network while keeping the 5 GB monthly bandwidth cap on data accessed on the 3G network. (Thanks Rob!)

It all sounds good, so why might this one device be a “winner” and a “loser?” The U301 timing inadvertently corresponds with our GigaOm Pro Mobile Winners and Losers for 2009 report (subscription required). One of my chosen winners was the 3G market for several reasons — more consumers are using the service which was once a novelty, and it’s starting to appear in standalone devices. My peer, Colin Gibbs, put WiMAX on the “naughty” list, however. WiMAX, which is what Sprint is offering with the U301, hasn’t made the inroads many had hoped for in 2009, but there’s still hope for a comeback in 2010.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. I read a brief review of the card and service at:

    http://www.technobuffalo.com/blog/internet/sprint-4g-review

    They claimed that 4G data was truly unlimited and that the 3G was capped at 5 GB. I checked out Sprint’s dedicated site and found that that was indeed true. Click through as if you’d like to buy one, then click “Learn more about important plan and coverage information.” It’s laid out clearly in a table.

    http://www.technobuffalo.com/blog/internet/sprint-4g-review

    Brief as it was, Technobuffalo’s review was more detailed than just about anything else out there. Most “reviews” I’ve seen discuss a press release and then say, “Well, LTE is coming in 2010 and will blow it away.*” A detailed test drive of WiMax from a source as trusted as JKOnTheRun would be great.

    * As an R&D engineer, I will be shocked – shocked – if even the scaled backed rollout plans for LTE are not optimistic.

  2. I fail to see how 3G can be a winner when US service providers continue to cap usage at a measly 5GB, and price that 5GB at a hefty $60-$70/month. European providers – in contrast – have been offering more generous caps of 7GB and 14GB for at least a year already.

    While I’m a big proponent of eliminating mobile broadband caps altogether, at $70/month, unlimited 4G is a huge step forward. Hopefully, 4G coverage will roll out fast enough to provide coverage to more users in 2010 and forward.

    The big question is will 4G usage remain uncapped. If service providers again impose limits and introduce pricing tiers as they have with 3G and earlier technology, I don’t see true wireless broadband ever becoming a reality.

  3. I’ve had Sprint’s 3G aircard and it is plug’n’play i.e, easy to use and can be used on any computer. The 3G/4G is not a plug’n’play and it is slower in getting the mobile connection. Hence, I returned it . . . after trying it on two different computers to make sure that it wasn’t the computer that was the poroblem.

    Interesting in calling Sprint for installation help, I was told to call Franklin who makes it. They told me that almost all their other air cards are plug’n’play but for some reason(ing) — and they didn’t say who, Sprint or Franklin, made the decision — this one is not.

    If they come out with a plug’n’play I’d buy it because of the increased speed of data coming in.

Comments have been disabled for this post