Sprint Rolls Out WiMax/3G Dual-Mode Modem

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Sprint has taken the wraps off the Sprint 3G/4G USB Modem U300, enabling users to tap into WiMax mobile broadband connectivity in areas where Clearwire’s WiMax network is already online—e.g., Baltimore—but fall back on old-school 3G technology outside WiMax service areas, so users don’t have to carry a separate device to stay connected.

“Sprint intends to be the leader in 4G and bring the wireless Internet to life,” said Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, in a statement. “This first-of-its-kind device allows our customers to take the Internet with them essentially wherever they go by gaining enhanced speed and capability in 4G markets and the nationwide coverage of our 3G network across the rest of the country.”

The dual mode modem is made by Franklin Wireless and connects to PCs via a standard USB port. In a WiMax-enabled area, the device offers average downlink speeds of 2 to 4 Mbps; outside the Clearwire WiMax network, the device falls back to Sprint’s 3G network and offers typical connectivity between 600 Kbps and 1.4 Mbps.

The Sprint 3G/4G USB Modem U300 goes on sale December 21 from Sprint directly and Baltimore-area retailers for $149.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate, but with a two-year subscriber agreement. In January, the card will land at Baltimore-area Best Buy stores.