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Sprint Bringing 3G Case to Apple iPod touch?

Newly released filings with the Federal Communication Commission reveal that mobile operator Sprint seems to be working with manufacturer ZTE to produce a snap-on, 3G-capable case for the Apple iPod touch. Called “The Peel,” the device is essentially a 3G modem embedded in an iPod touch case, with its own battery that would enable the iPod touch to tap into Sprint’s EV-DO Rev 0 data network. The Peel could also be used as a mobile hotspot to enable other nearby Wi-Fi connected devices to connect to Sprint’s data network.

The Peel—if it makes it to retailers—wouldn’t be Sprint’s first attempt to latch its data network on to Apple products: when Apple’s WiFi-only iPads first went on the market, Sprint quickly marketed a free iPad case with a pocket designed to accommodate the carrier’s 4G/3G combination mobile hotspot.

Although few iPod touch owners would seem likely to want to voice service with their device—otherwise, they would have gotten an iPhone—the ability to att 3G mobile data service to the iPod touch and have the device act as a 3G hotspot for other devices may have some appeal to iPod touch users—particularly if they’re already mulling a 3G hotspot for use with a notebook or other device. However, The Peel seems to only be set to operate using Sprint’s EV-DO Rev 0 3G network (400–700 kbps downstream), rather than the higher-bandwidth EV-DO Rev A standard (600–1.4 Mbps downstream) now used by most Sprint 3G devices.