On Jan. 7, Sprint introduced the Sierra Wireless-made Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot, which will allow up to five WiFi-enabled devices to connect to Sprint's 3G/4G network.
The battery-powered Overdrive weighs 4.51 ounces and is 3.14 by 3.14 by 0.61 inches, enabling users to take it anywhere, instead of being tied to a hotspot. It has a 1.4-inch LCD display that shows battery life and connectivity status information, GPS is built in, and a microSD slot for up to 16GB can share the additional memory amongst devices.
"This device delivers the connected lifestyle to our customers in overdrive. The fact that it connects up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices is especially meaningful because at 4G speeds, customers can download and upload more data - gigabytes, not megabytes - in a matter of seconds," said Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO, in a statement.
"The Overdrive on the 4G network is made for the multitude of bandwidth-hungry applications customers want to access wirelessly, like video streaming. 4G beats 3G for speed and for value," Hesse continued.
Smartphones with contracts with other carriers, laptops, gaming devices and cameras can all connect to the Overdrive, which at 4G speeds offers peak downloads of 10Mbps and peak uploads of 4Mbps. On Sprint's EVDO Rev A. 3G network, peak download speeds are up to 3.1Mbps and peak uploads are 1.8Mbps.
"At Best Buy, we see an amazing amount of new devices and products from mobile phones to televisions to gaming consoles that are designed to connect and interact with each other," said Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn, in the statement.
"This kind of connectivity is very exciting, but it can also be complicated to maximize unless you actually see it and understand it," Dunn continued. "The Sprint Overdrive will allow us to showcase our in-store experience by demonstrating how various WiFi-enabled products work and connect together, whether in the home, on the go, or both.
On Jan. 5, competitors AT&T and T-Mobile each announced upgrades to their networks. Both have completed HSPA 7.2 upgrades to their 3G networks, a speed-boosting step toward their eventual goals of deploying LTE 4G technology.
Sprint's 4G network, however, is based on the competing 4G technology called WiMax, currently being rolled out by independent company Clearwire, which Sprint holds a majority share of. While many analysts believe that LTE will eventually be the dominant technology, carrier TeliaSonera rolled out just the first LTE network in December, in Stockholm, Sweden.
However, via Clearwire, Sprint currently offers 4G coverage in 27 U.S. markets, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Honolulu and Austin. In 2010, it expects to add Boston, Houston, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., to the list.
Exclusively from Sprint, the Overdrive will be available as of Jan. 10 for $99.99, after a $50 mail-in rebate and with a two-year service agreement. The same day, Sprint will begin offering consumers and businesses a 3G/4G data plan beginning at $59.99 per month.