Sprint Nextel is rolling out two devices that enable mobile professionals to carry a personal Wi-Fi cloud wherever they go.
The Sprint Personal Hotspot PHS300S is a mobile broadband router that is small enough to fit in a pocket. Users can connect 3G or 4G modems into it to create an 802.11g hotspot. Up to four Wi-Fi gadgets can be connected to the hotspot, including smartphones, laptops, cameras, and personal media players.
Sprint is also targeting enterprises with its Cradlepoint MBR-1000 Broadband Router, which has similar functionality to the Personal Hotspot but it enables up to 32 simultaneous Wi-Fi connections. The Cradlepoint device is a bigger device, and it has three antennas to create a bigger hotspot. This router can create a secure 802.11n hotspots via WPA2-PSK, WEP, and SPI Firewall.
The Personal Hotspot will retail for $159.99, and the Cradlepoint will cost $249.99. Both devices will need a 3G or WiMax data plan, which ranges from about $39.99 to $79.99 per month.
"The addition of these mobile hotspot products offer even faster connectivity speeds to Wi-Fi users without the need to find a Wi-Fi hotspot," said Todd Rowley, VP of Sprint's 4G division, in a statement. "These two new products can potentially connect the Sprint 3G and 4G networks to the hundreds of millions of Wi-Fi-enabled devices in the United States today."
The company also offers a similar product with the Novatel MiFi, but this device only uses 3G data. It can support five devices on its Wi-Fi cloud.
Most companies are just starting the hard work of mobilizing workforces by bringing the software they use to smartphones. InformationWeek analyzed this issue in an independent report, and it can be downloaded here (registration required).