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Novatel Unveils Wireless Hotspot for Mobile Warriors

Novatel Wireless has unveiled a product line in the mobile Wi-Fi market that it plans to make available in the first half of 2009.

The battery powered My-Fi router connects to the Internet via a 3G (third generation) mobile telephone network and creates a mobile cloud of Wi-Fi, or wireless, connectivity within a 40-foot radius.

It allows any Wi-Fi-enabled product to become an Internet device, and it can host multiple devices at once.

“It creates an intelligent mobile hotspot,” says senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing Rob Hadley. “If I have my My-Fi on, you and I can jump on it and share a connection. It’s not much bigger than a credit card, less than a quarter inch thick and very portable.”

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Novatel has not set a price, but Hadley says it will likely be under $200, plus the cost of a wireless 3G plan, which starts at $59 a month.

My-Fi, set up as a portable server, creates a secure connection with a computer at work and syncs to Microsoft Outlook without the need for a laptop.

“It can be updating my Web Outlook e-mail, and when I get on the airplane where I don’t have 3G service, I’m still able to read it,” Hadley said.

It’s similar to a cellular-based modem by Cradlepoint, which also creates a Wi-Fi hotspot via cell connection. My-Fi differs in that it can host multiple users and support enterprise software.

The first product release will come with a removable memory card. The next generation will likely offer wireless storage.

However, operators that bundle it with other products might subsidize the retail cost.

“Initially we will focus on an operator partner channel, but My-Fi is applicable to retail as well,” Hadley said. “We can envision where a retailer wants to bundle My-Fi with other Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

Hadley does not expect the recession to have a huge impact on sales because he says the product improves worker productivity and provides a better user experience for consumers.

“This (cellular) market is measured in the billions. Wireless wide area networking or mobile broadband is a small percentage of our overall subscriber base,” he said. “There are many more mobile handset subscribers today than mobile broadband. And as rate plans drop for mobile data and we have more applications and content to use, that market could explode.”

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Ready For Takeoff:
ViaSat, a Carlsbad satellite communications company, recently picked French rocket company Arianespace to launch ViaSat-1, its broadband satellite into geosynchronous orbit over North America.

Built by Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto, ViaSat-1 will provide broadband media services to consumers and businesses.

The Ariane 5 will launch from Guiana Space Center in French Guiana in the first half of 2011.

“Winning this contract from ViaSat confirms our ability to deliver top-quality launch services,” said Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall.

ViaSat CEO Mark Dankberg said the company is comfortable with the French company’s launch services.

“We are seeing a lot of anticipation in the marketplace for ViaSat-1, which is designed to deliver more capacity and a lower cost per bit than any satellite before,” he said.

Arianespace is backed by 23 shareholders and the European Space Agency. Its rockets are Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega.

Arianespace had launched at least 263 payloads, including more than half of all the commercial satellites now in service. It has a backlog of 25 Ariane 5 and 10 Soyuz launches, equal to more than three years of business.

Please send your technology news and announcements to Ned Randolph at nrandolph@sdbj.com.


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