Novatel Readies Next-Gen MiFi Hot Spot


San Diego - The next-generation personal Wi-Fi hot spot available from Novatel Wireless in North America will add embedded memory, a MicroSDHC memory-card slot and Linux OS, which will enable over-the-air application downloading, CMO Rob Hadley told TWICE.

Novatel's first-generation personal hot spot, the MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hot Spot, is a pocket-size battery-powered Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/ router with an embedded CDMA 1x EV-DO Rev. A cellular modem. With it, up to five Wi-Fi-enabled laptops, digital cameras, handheld games and other devices can simultaneously access the Internet from up to 30 feet away in locations where fixed hot spots or Wi-Fi networks are unavailable.

The MiFi 2200, the industry's first battery-operated cellular/Wi-Fi router, was launched earlier this year by Verizon Wireless and Sprint at $99 after rebate. It's also available through retailers such as Best Buy and RadioShack.

The next-generation MiFi, the Linux-based 2372, will operate in North American GSM/HSPA networks and, like the current model, will feature GPS and a rechargeable battery that delivers up to four hours of Web surfing and 40 hours of standby time on a single charge.

A 2372 launch announcement by a Canadian carrier is imminent, and Novatel expects to offer the 2372 through a U.S. GSM carrier at an unspecified later date. The device features quadband EDGE operation and triband HSPA operation in the U.S. 850/1,900MHz bands and overseas 2.1GHz band.

Hadley expects a Linux-based EV-DO Rev. A version of the 2372 to be available in the U.S. late in the first half of 2010.

Such Linux-based MiFi devices are capable of over-the-air downloading of such apps as an automatic virtual private network (VPN) program, which will enable small-business users to access their company server securely from any available Wi-Fi-equipped laptop without loading VPN software onto a laptop, Hadley said. That app will be available late in the first quarter.

Other potential applications could compress multi-megapixel images from a Wi-Fi-equipped digital camera before sending them to social-networking sites via cellular. The MiFi could use its GPS receiver to geo-tag photos as they're sent. Another potential app is cloud storage.

Via the MiFi's embedded 256MB memory and an optional MicroSDHC card, users could offload files from their laptop or digital camera. The MicroSDHC card also doubles as a shared drive that can be accessed from Wi-Fi-connected devices. The MiFi 2372 will support 16GB MicroSDHC cards and future 32GB cards.

The MiFi's embedded Web server will also get an update, Hadley said. The current generation's server serves up a landing page to select Wi-Fi security settings. The next-generation landing page will offer weather reports, Google local search for points of interest, and access to Web mail accounts. The page can also be configured to continually pull email, caching them in memory for later reading.

The HSPA MiFi will be a little larger than the current Rev. A version to make room for the memory card slot and a higher capacity battery to meet HSPA's higher power-consumption requirements, Hadley said.


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