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Eric Zeman
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Overdrive Pro Offers 3G/4G Mobile Broadband For Sprint

A new mobile hotspot product from Sprint provides 3G and 4G broadband for up to 8 other Wi-Fi devices -- even those sold by competing carriers.

Sprint really dials in the snark in its latest press release. The press release is for a new mobile broadband product, the Overdrive Pro from Sierra Wireless. It does what other mobile hotspot products do -- it connects to 3G/4G and then lets other products piggyback on that network connection via Wi-Fi.

Here's what Sprint says the Overdrive Pro is good for, "Overdrive Pro allows users to connect up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices simultaneously -- including laptops, tablets, eReaders, gaming devices, cameras and even smartphones from other carriers -- through a single connection (via Wi-Fi) to a 4G network offering download speeds up to 10 times faster than today’s 3G service."

Do you see what they did there? Sprint picked on its competitors, suggesting that their networks (4G or not) aren't as capable as its 4G network.

Speaking of which, there is a fascinating omission from Sprint's press release. The word "WiMax" doesn't appear once in the entire thing. Sprint has almost always referred to its 4G network's actual technical name of WiMax in press releases. Instead, Sprint only says 4G in this press release. This can't have happened on accident. Why leave out any reference to WiMax? Very peculiar.

The Overdrive Pro goes on sale Sunday for $50 with a new two-year plan, though you'll have to deal with the hassle of a $50 mail-in rebate. Data plans for the Overdrive Pro start at $50 per month.

The Overdrive Pro is a successor to the Overdrive, which Sprint launched last year. It has a number of improvements. Sprint says it has a 35% reduction in power up/down times, 45% larger LCD display and a smaller overall footprint. The LCD offers more information, as well, such as detailed connection and device stats.

Sprint's WiMax - nee, 4G -- network is available in 71 markets across the U.S. The Overdrive Pro can use 4G when the coverage is available, and will fall back to Sprint's EVDO -- nee, 3G -- network everywhere else.

"Overdrive Pro, combined with the power of Sprint’s 4G network, is a valuable tool for both consumers and business users looking for the best way to stay connected on the go," said Dan Schieler, senior vice president and general manager, Mobile Computing for Sierra Wireless in a prepared statement. "It’s remarkably easy to get up and running, and with support for eight Wi-Fi connections and a range of up to 150 feet, it’s equally useful to a remote work team sending reports and presentations back to the office as it is to a varsity team posting highlights from their winning game."

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