Those of you in the US who have looked on with aquisative eyes at the WiFi-to-3G router software we've been mentioning but don't have a compatible handset can rejoice: US telco Sprint is to offer a battery operated 3G router starting March 1st.
Working in much the same way as the WMWiFiRouter
software-based systems, the router is designed to convert your Sprint-supplied EV-DO 3G data connection into a local WiFi link for up to four devices.
The pocket-sized router supports WPA2 encryption on the wireless side and features a NAT bridge and stateful packet inspection firewall for a little added security for your devices. Fitted with an 1800mAh battery, Sprint claims the unit will offer “hours of Wi-Fi virtually anywhere
”. Interestingly – and not entirely obviously from the data sheet – the router doesn't actually
have any 3G hardware inside. Instead it relies on a USB-connected 3G modem or handset to handle the actual EV-DO connectivity. While this is likely to keep costs down, it's not quite as handy as a single-box solution.
Although the router offers simultaneous connectivity for four devices, if you decide to use the router to turn your 3G handset into a hotspot you should be aware you'll be limited to two. Quite why isn't entirely clear, as once a 'phone is in modem mode it should support as many users as you have bandwidth. Clearly Sprint is hoping to bolster sales of external USB 3G modems.
Worth it for the support of a major carrier, or is the free software equivalent enough for you on the rare occasions you need such a thing? Share your thoughts over in the forums