Vodafone Launches Mobile Wi-Fi Device

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Vodafone is looking to encourage more people to use its network for mobile broadband after it launched a device that creates a mini Wi-Fi hotspot

Despite mobile networks suffering from increasing data strain, Vodafone is hoping to encourage more people to use mobile broadband with the launch of a pocket-sized Wi-Fi device.

Dubbed with the catchy monkier of “Vodafone Mobile Wi-Fi R201“, the mobile device essentially creates a mini Wi-Fi hotspot that allows up to five users to connect their Wi-Fi-enabled devices to the Internet via a 3G mobile network.

According to Vodafone, the battery life for the device is four hours, and users can also connect directly to the device through a USB connection.

Mobile Data Strain

So-called MiFi hotspot devices have been around for a while now. But with mobile operators facing increasing data overload on their mobile networks, and operators scrapping their unlimited data plans, should Vodafone be encouraging more people to use mobile broadband?

In June for example, UK mobile broadband price comparison site, Broadband Expert, said there had been a 57 percent drop in the number of people it had helped sign up for mobile broadband in the last twelve months. Moreover, it said sales have crashed by over 50 percent year-on-year, as people have fallen out of love with mobile broadband.

“The device is geared for both business users and consumers,” a Vodafone spokesperson told eWEEK Europe UK. “It is for any user who wants to connect multiple people or multiple devices whilst on the move.”

Growing Uses

“For example, one possible scenerio is if you are using the Mobile Wi-Fi R201 whilst you are on holiday. Now if you were using a 3G dongle, and say you could only get mobile reception in the upstairs of your holiday home, it would mean that you would have to stay upstairs in order to connect to the Internet. With the Mobile Wi-Fi R201, you can leave it where it has reception, and work around the house using the Wi-Fi network,” said the Vodafone spokesperson.

“It is a different kind of product and as more and more people start using it, the user cases will grow,” said the Vodafone spokeperson.

The device is available free on a £25, 18-month price plan. This includes 5GB of mobile data. Other options include paying £29 if you are on a £20 per month contract with 4GB, and £49 on a £15 contract with 3GB.

Vodafone says that it is designed to be easy to set up and use, and incorporates a display screen to provide information about the type and strength of signal available, Wi-Fi connectivity and battery life.

It also has the capacity to support up to 32GB Micro SD memory cards, which can be purchased separately. The unit provides speeds of up to 7.2Mbps on the downlink and 5.76Mbps on the uplink.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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