Mobile operator Sprint announced the impending release of the MiFi 2200 mobile hotspot device, which will hit the market in the first week of June. The MiFi 2200 allow users to connect to the Internet by bridging Wi-Fi-enabled devices such as laptops, MP3 players and gaming devices to Sprint's 3G EVDO mobile broadband network.
The company says the device will retails for $99.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and a new two-year service agreement. Sprint will launch the service under the Mobile Hotspot name, and claims it will be the first in the United States to support MiFi's GPS capabilities, allowing users to take advantage of location and mapping applications.
Sprint plans to offer two service plans, a $59.99 per month mobile-broadband-only plan as well as a $149.99 per month "Simply Everything" plan, which combines phone plus device connectivity. First introduced in February, the plan includes unlimited text, picture and video messaging, GPS navigation, e-mail and Web surfing on their phone, plus 5 GB of Internet access on a mobile broadband device.
MiFi creates a personal cloud of high-speed Internet connectivity that can be shared among up to five users and a variety of Wi-Fi-enabled devices through its connection to Sprint's network. Sprint says the device is ideal for consumers and business professionals. The battery provides four hours of user time and 40 hours standby on a single charge.
"You can hold the MiFi 2200 in the palm of your hand, slip it in your pocket, even place it on a beach towel if you're lying under the sun and wirelessly connect your laptop, MP3 player and gaming device to the Internet all at once," said Sprint's president of network, wholesale and product Steve Elfman. "Now customers will be able to use one mobile broadband device - the MiFi 2200 - to connect multiple personal devices or multiple users. If I have a Wi-Fi-enabled device, I don't need to find a Wi-Fi hotspot. The MiFi 2200 creates one for me."
Michael Gartenberg, vice president of strategy and analysis at Santa Monica-based research firm Interpret, says there are an abundance of consumer devices with integrated Wi-Fi that lose their functionality when Wi-Fi isn't available. "The ability to seamlessly add WAN capabilities to this multitude of devices will empower consumers to use their devices the way they want to use them and wherever they want to use them," he said.
Elfman notes businesses can save money using the device because of its ability to connect up to five mobile devices to the Internet. Sprint says soon after its retail launch, Sprint Wholesale will begin offering a version of the Novatel MiFi 2200 to wholesale wireless partners. "Now business professionals like claims adjusters, mobile professionals, retail employees and field service technicians can easily perform multiple functions using various Wi-Fi devices, all over one connection."