LAS VEGAS--Sprint Nextel introduced a 3G/4G wireless router Wednesday night called the Sprint Overdrive that will allow subscribers to share their wireless broadband connection among Wi-Fi devices.
The Overdrive router, made by Sierra Wireless, uses, where it's available, to allow customers to access the Internet and then it shares that bandwidth among Wi-Fi-enabled devices. Where 4G service isn't available, the router connects to the Internet using Sprint's 3G EV-DO wireless network. Subscribers can connect up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices, such as laptops, cameras, game consoles and other Wi-Fi-enabled devices.
Sprint, which showed off the new device at an event the night before the Consumer Electronics Show kicks off here, claims that the 4G wireless network provides enough bandwidth to allow users to easily wirelessly stream high-definition video and music, play games on consoles like the Microsoft Xbox and surf the Web all at the same time.
The Overdrive will be sold at Best Buy stores in 10 markets. It goes on sale January 10 and it will cost $100 after a $50 mail-in rebate. This price requires a two-year service contract for. These plans start at about $60 per month.
Through its, Sprint offers 4G wireless service is 27 markets across the U.S. with more to come in 2010.
The new Overdrive device could make the Sprint/Clearwire 4G service more appealing to consumers. Even though device makers are starting to embed WiMax technology into devices, there are more Wi-Fi devices on the market today. In fact, Dan Hesse, Sprint's CEO said there are currently more than 4 million Wi-Fi devices on the market. And according to In-Stat, that number could reach 1 billion by 2012. Allowing consumers the opportunity to leverage the Wi-Fi already embedded in their consumer electronic products might be a good strategy to boost subscriptions for the 4G wireless service.