Sprint announced the launch of two 4G wireless enabled broadband routers today. The Sprint Personal Hotspot PHS300S targets consumers, serving up to four simultaneous Wi-Fi connections. The Cradlepoint MBR-1000 Broadband Router targets business users and allows up to 32 simultaneous Wi-Fi connections. Both routers offer both 3G and 4G backhaul connectivity, offering anywhere from less than 1 Mbps to over 6 Mbps in bandwidth speed (depending on availability and strength of 3G/4G coverage).
As these devices come to market, you can begin to see the possibilities of wireless broadband substitution. Theoretically, these products and services appear to be adequate substitutions for today’s DSL services, and maybe more. While the speed and performance will not satisfy all wireline broadband users, it doesn’t have to. It’s not intended to convert all wireline broadband customers, only enough.
Wireless broadband as a substitute for wireline broadband may be appealing to segments of the broadband population – SOHO businesses, value conscious and casual broadband users, and broadband users who find mobility the most important factor, to name a few. It’s too early to tell whether Sprint will be able to capitalize on this trend (or Clearwire). But announcements like this are leading indicators of a very near future where 4G services, both WiMAX and LTE, compete with lower ends of wireline broadband services, and perhaps, win.