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Sprint Plans Pocket-Sized Wi-Fi Hot Spot

5/14/2009 11:54:00 AM Eastern

Overland Park, Kan. — Sprint will join Verizon Wireless in marketing Novatel’s pocket-size battery-powered Wi-Fi router with embedded cellular data modem.

Verizon announced earlier this week that it would be first to market on May 17. Today, Sprint announced availability during the first week of June. Both carriers are pricing the Novatel-made MiFi 2200 at $99 after $50 mail-in rebate with two-year wireless-data service contract.

The 2200 incorporates CDMA 1x EV-DO Rev. A cellular-data modem and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, enabling up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices to access the Internet from places where fixed hot spots or Wi-Fi networks are unavailable. The MiFi’s rechargeable battery provides up to four hours of active use and 40 hours of standby time on a single charge. It measures 3.5 inches by 2.3 inches by 0.4 inches and weighs 2.05 ounces.

The device is the first of its kind to operate on batteries, enabling consumers to take it easily from car to car. Recently, Autonet launched a transportable in-vehicle cellular hot spot, which consumers can move from car to car, but the device must be docked with an installed mounting kit. For its part, Kyocera continues to offer a KR2 Wi-Fi router that operates off AC, comes with car cigarette-lighter adapter, and accepts a cellular EV-DO data card to connect to up to 20 Wi-Fi-equipped laptops to the Internet.

The Novatel device will be available through all Verizon Wireless channels. Sprint will offer it online, in its stores and through select other retailers. Soon after, it will offer a version to wireless wholesalers.

Eligible Verizon price plans include $39.99 monthly access for 250MB monthly allowance and 10 cents per megabyte overage. A $59.99 monthly plan comes with 5GB monthly allowance and 5 cents per megabyte overage. Consumers can pay a higher price if they don’t commit to a monthly plan. In that case, the user must get a $15 Mobile Broadband DayPass to access the service for a single 24-hour period.

Sprint’s eligible plans are the $59.99/month broadband-only plan and the $149/month Simply Everything Plan + Mobile Broadband plan, which covers a phone plus the device. Both plans include up to 5GB of data per month, plus 5 cents for every MB more.