One theme we heard repeated often during our day and a half at the Clearwire Las Vegas market launch was that Sprint, not Clearwire, would be the company leading marketing efforts in selling WiMAX to business users. Wednesday the No. 3 cellular carrier showed a bit how that effort might happen, launching its own version of the Clear Spot portable WiMAX/Wi-Fi router, as well as a beefier version that can support up to 32 Wi-Fi connections.
The two new personal routers, or PocketSpots as we like to call them, are manufactured by Cradlepoint, which also makes the Clear Spot now being sold by Clearwire. The difference in Sprint’s offering is that these routers will work with Sprint’s hybrid 3G/4G USB device, meaning they will work connected to a WiMAX network if one is available, or to Sprint’s 3G cellular network if WiMAX ain’t around. Pricing is $160 for the “Sprint Personal Hot Spot,” and $250 for the lovingly titled “Cradlepoint MBR-1000 Broadband Router for business.” According to Sprint the products are available now, and can be used with either 3G or 3G/4G data plans.
We haven’t yet talked to Sprint reps about the products, and we are curious to know why they are only allowing the personal hot spot to have four Wi-Fi connections when Clearwire’s version allows eight. Also, Sprint WiMAX services are only commercially available right now in Baltimore, though our Sprint hybrid card worked just fine in Las Vegas, where service is scheduled to be commercially available “in August,” according to Sprint. Atlanta and Portland, Ore., also currently “live” Clearwire markets, are also scheduled for Sprint services sometime this month.
Updates later as we chat with Sprint. Gratuitous fanboy photos below.
This is the personal hot spot model. I don’t think the pretty yellow ribbon comes with the boxed version.
Three antennas = business router doin’ business!