If your city is one of the many that's part of Sprints ongoing LTE rollout (or will be soon), then the network's just announced three tri-band mobile broadband devices for your consideration. The hope, it seems, is that as different parts of Sprint's LTE spectrum become available (including spectrum from Clearwire), coverage and network performance of the devices will improve. The hardware offerings are Novatel's MiFi 500 LTE, the Netgear Zing Mobile Hotspot and 341U USB dongle, and are slated to be available by summer. No confirmed availability dates or prices just yet. Sprint also hints at tri-band LTE phones from Samsung and LG to follow. In the meantime, however, you'd better get set up with your Data Link and Static IP.
Update: We had a brief run-in with the three new broadband devices and without being able to field test at blazing LTE speeds we can only offer up impressions of their design. In short? They're all essentially what we've seen before with the MiFi's shape being our favorite because of its smaller but taller -- and ultimately more pocketable -- footprint. Gallery is just below.
Sprint announces three tri-band LTE devices landing this summer (hands-on)
Brad Molen and Sean Cooper contributed to this report.
Tri-Band 4G LTE Mobile Broadband Devices to Bring Sprint Customers Stronger In-Building Coverage and Better Network Performance
MiFi® 500 LTE by Novatel Wireless™, NETGEAR® 341U USB Modem and NETGEAR® Zing Mobile Hotspot ™ offer connectivity and security without the hassle of searching for a public Wi-Fi signal
LAS VEGAS (BUSINESS WIRE), May 21, 2013 - Sprint (NYSE:S) today announced the planned summer launch of a trio of mobile broadband devices that will take advantage of three bands of 4G LTE wireless spectrum available to Sprint's network. These devices are expected to bring customers improved network performance and stronger in-building coverage as LTE is deployed on each of these bands. With the ability to leverage Sprint's 4G LTE network at 1.9GHz and 800MHz as well as Clearwire's LTE network at 2.5GHz, these new devices offer Sprint customers ideal solutions to easily stay connected on the go.
The first tri-band Sprint 4G LTE-capable mobile broadband devices will be the sleek MiFi® 500 LTE by Novatel Wireless™, international-capable NETGEAR® Zing Mobile Hotspot™ and the plug-in NETGEAR® 341U USB Modem. Pricing and exact availability dates for the three devices will be provided at a later date.
The three bands of spectrum accessible on these devices will provide Sprint customers a high-quality, consistently fast 4G LTE network experience, whether they are sitting at their desks, catching up with friends at a coffee shop, or riding in a cab in a crowded city:
The 800MHz spectrum that is being added to Sprint's LTE network beginning later this year excels at in-building coverage. This spectrum is able to be repurposed for LTE as Sprint ceases operations of the Nextel National Network on June 30, 2013.
Using 1.9GHz spectrum as its primary band for 4G nationwide coverage, Sprint is making substantial progress with deployment of its new 4G LTE network. Sprint now offers service in 88 markets nationwide, including Los Angeles, Charlotte, Boston and Dallas. Average performance is in the range of six to eight MB per second for downlink and two to three MB per second or higher for uplink. Many Sprint customers are discovering Sprint 4G LTE in cities that haven't yet officially been announced, including Washington, D.C., New York and San Francisco. Sprint has announced more than 170 additional markets where LTE will be available in the coming months.
Clearwire's 2.5GHz spectrum for its LTE network, which excels at broad-based, high speed coverage, is expected to provide Sprint customers with increased speeds and capacity in densely populated cities.
The launch of devices that can operate on three spectrum bands is another milestone in Sprint's rollout of Network Vision. Network Vision represents a nationwide update of the Sprint network using the newest, most-advanced equipment in the industry. Sprint plans to consolidate multiple network technologies into one seamless network with the goal of enhancing network coverage, improving call quality and increasing data speeds for customers. It will also offer financial benefits for Sprint shareholders.
"We are very pleased to reach another Network Vision milestone today as we continue to be on schedule to deliver a world-class LTE network experience for our customers," said Steve Elfman, president of Network Operations and Wholesale. "These three devices from our partners at Novatel and NETGEAR provide a clear look at the benefits of consolidating networks and making the best use of our spectrum assets. Best of all, these new mobile broadband devices bring our customers innovative features, including touchscreens and international capability."
Updated MiFi Packs In Features
Novatel Wireless, inventor of the mobile hotspot category, has updated its award-winning MiFi hotspot with the MiFi 500 LTE, adding connectivity to Sprint's LTE network as well as 3G CDMA. Offering sleek and compact styling, MiFi 500 LTE makes it easy for families, students or work teams of up to 10 to wirelessly stay connected with the same 3G or 4G LTE connection.
This convenient mobile broadband device requires no software to install and offers advanced on-device security features to keep data and wireless service protected. An easy-to-use, on-device menu and intuitive navigation keys puts important information, such as battery status, signal strength and connected devices, at the user's fingertips. The web interface provides additional information including data usage and power management options.
MiFi 500 LTE offers a powerful 1,800mAh battery with an average of up to 10 hours of use on a single charge. It also features GPS functionality over Wi-Fi, multiple security protocols and other advanced features required by many corporate customers.
International Sprint LTE Hotspot
Sierra Wireless' AirCard® mobile broadband devices, including mobile hotspots, USB modems, associated accessories and software, are now part of the NETGEAR® family. Thinner than a hockey puck, NETGEAR Zing Mobile Hotspot is Sprint's first CDMA/LTE mobile hotspot to boast international roaming capabilities via GSM. It is also Sprint's first LCD touchscreen hotspot and first hotspot with both the device and packaging meeting Sprint's stringent environmental specifications.
NETGEAR Zing makes it easy to get work started quickly with access to the Sprint 3G or 4G LTE networks within seconds and real-time access to company resources, networks and data. The entire family can stay entertained on the go with high speed data for up to 10 users on Wi-Fi capable devices, such as laptops, eReaders, gaming devices, music players and tablets.
With a 2,500mAh battery, NETGEAR Zing allows users to remain connected for up to 10 hours of typical use. Users of the device can also manage connections and change network or device settings directly from the touchscreen. Additional settings are accessible through the web user interface.
First Tri-Band LTE USB Plug-In Modem
For those who prefer a plug-in option, NETGEAR 341U USB Modem will be Sprint's first tri-band LTE-capable USB modem. This small yet powerful device features a built-in LCD screen display to monitor connection status, signal strength and data usage with a quick glance.
With no software to install or start-up delay, NETGEAR 341U USB Modem makes it easy to get work done on the go. Download large presentations, stream video, and keep up with email without having to hunt for a public Wi-Fi network anywhere within Sprint's expanding 4G LTE or nationwide 3G footprints. Best of all, it provides flexibility for mobile workers who want to configure security and network access to keep their data safe.
Smartphones from Samsung and LG with tri-band capability are expected to be available to Sprint customers before the end of the year.
For the most up-to-date details on Sprint's 4G LTE portfolio and rollout, visit www.sprint.com/network. For detailed 4G LTE maps, visit www.sprint.com/coverage. Customers are encouraged to check back often because the maps will be updated whenever coverage is enhanced.