Call it the intersection of preparation and opportunity — Clearwire today took a swipe at the network troubles that have been limiting the communication features of Apple iPads and iPhones with the introduction of the “iSpot,” a personal 4G/Wi-Fi hotspot that has an introductory service price of $25 per month for unlimited data use.
The device, in a white case to match the signature Apple casing, is a rebranded version of earlier devices from Clearwire that connect to the provider’s 4G WiMAX wireless broadband network on the back end to provide a Wi-Fi “cloud” for up to eight other devices.
While the device’s retail price is $99.99, Clearwire is offering it online for sale until tomorrow for the price of $29.99. The contracts advertised are month-to-month with no long-term obligation.
Though we haven’t spoken to Clearwire yet about the device, it is clearly designed to take advantage of the hobbled cellular data plans available for Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad via Apple’s exclusive agreement in the U.S. with AT&T. Though the device is marketed as an iPad/iPhone/iPod touch companion, we are guessing that any other device with a Wi-Fi connection can use the services made available from the portable router. UPDATE: According to the Clear blog, the device is actually locked for iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch use only at the $25 rate; to use other equipment it needs to be unlocked by Clearwire folks and you will pay the regular service fees. From the Clear blog:
There has been some confusion out on the interwebs about what devices the iSpot can work with. To clarify, if you take advantage of the $25/mo service plan, your iSpot will only work with iPod touches, iPads, and iPhones. If you want it unlocked to work with any wi-fi enabled devices (laptops, Macbooks, smartphones etc) our Customer Service team can unlock it it you decide to go with the same monthly service plan that is available for the CLEAR Spot 4G.
The Sidecut take says — why lock this thing at all? The more open the better, why introduce the confusion? After all, it’s not like people who buy Apple products are necessarily budget-sensitive, so why give them a better deal than other device holders?