We’ve enjoyed the MiFi party — as does the Times, though they seem to have just found their invitation — so this news out of Sprint today was right up our alley. The CDMA carrier just announced two new pocketable wireless broadband routers that share either a 3G or 4G connection over Wi-Fi. Yup, these devices support your existing 3G USB adapter or WiMAX USB devices. Both appear to be made by Cradlepoint, although one is Sprint-branded.
The Sprint Personal Hotspot PHS3005 shares your 3G or 4G signal with up to four Wi-Fi devices, which is one less than the current MiFi solution. Need to signal share with a gaggle of geeks? The Cradlepoint MBR-1000 Broadband Router, which requires an electrical outlet, supports up to 32 connections — something I wouldn’t try with 3G and would even be hard-pressed to do with a solid 4G signal. The two portable routers are available direct for $159.99 and $249.99, respectively, although you’re sure to find them online for less.
Although this is a step in the right direction with support for WiMAX in addition to EVDO, I’m waiting for the next iteration. It seems to me like these devices generally got a firmware update for the WiMAX support, but I could be wrong in that area. And I don’t know of any specific plans for future devices here, but I have to believe we’ll see a solution similar to these and the MiFi where the 4G radio is already inside. I’d rather just press a button and keep a device in my pocket than put the device down and plug in a USB dongle.