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Sprint Overdrive 4G wireless router: WiMax? Why not

Sprint has launched the Overdrive 4G wireless router, a portable hotspot that taps into super-fast 4G mobile broadband

In the US, some wireless broadband users are way more G than you. Well, one more G anyway, making a total of 4G. US network Sprint has debuted the Overdrive 4G and 3G wireless router.

The Overdrive Mobile Hotspot is built by Sierra Wireless and links up to Clearwire's mobile WiMax network. It creates an ad hoc Wi-Fi network for up to five devices. It's similar to the 3G MiFi portable hotspot, but with the advantage of faster 4G speeds. Where 4G isn't available, the Overdrive switches to 3G.

It's a tiny little fella, barely big enough for a micro-USB port, a microSD slot and a small screen giving information on your connection speed and signal strength. It's very portable indeed, but at its launch at CES 2010, Sprint suggested it could replace your home router. It's compatible with Microsoft's Xbox 360, which could be a big customer draw.

US customers will pay $150 (£90) or $100 (£60) after a $50 'mail-in-rebate', where they knock off $50 if you post in a form with your information on it. You're committed to a two-year service contract. Unlimited 3G and 4G costs $60 (£35) per month.

Motorola and O2 have held 4G trials in the UK, but we're still some way away from seeing the technology in everyday use. O2 and Scandinavian company TeliaSonera, like Sprint's US rivals AT&T and Verizon, are investing in the Long-Term Evolution 4G wireless broadband standard. LTE is faster than WiMax, as used by Sprint and the Overdrive. Still, the Overdrive is first to market, with Sprint 4G offered in Baltimore since October, 27 markets to date, and ten US cities to follow this year including New York and San Francisco.