Sometimes, when you are out of the office, you just need Wi-Fi. While mobile broadband service (which can come built into laptops or separately as a USB stick or USB modem) provides reasonably fast service, it typically serves only one computer at a time. For groups or families travelling, off-site meetings, and even emergency back-up in the office, the ability to fire up a WLAN (wireless local area network) can be key.
The size of a PDA, the Cradlepoint Personal Hotspot converts mobile broadband service into your own personal hotspot. I plugged in a Novatel Wireless Ovation U727 USB stick modem running on the the Sprint network and within seconds I was able to log into the PHS300 and surf the Web. Sprint promises speeds of 600 kbps to 1.4 Mbps in markets where it has rolled out its EV-DO (Evolution Data Optimized) Revision A service. My average speed was more like 200 kbps, still respectable but a bit pokey. But in areas where faster service is available, users should expect lightning fast response.
It’s compatible with many broadband modems as well as select 3G mobiles.
Use cases abound. If you are in a room with a weak signal, you can place the PHS300 near a window (presuming the signal is better there) and then use Wi-Fi within the room. For individuals or groups that require secure Wi-FI access (see last month’s article), using a hotspot of one’s own is the easiest and perhaps least costly route to getting online.
–David B. Goldes is a Contributing Editor of Executive Road Warrior and President and Senior Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.