The best thing about 3G mobile broadband is that it instantly brings Internet access to places where you can't get Wi-Fi or don't have DSL, Cable, and other services. On Wednesday at CES 2009, Netgear announced that it wants to make it easier than ever for small teams to share 3G broadband with its new 3G Mobile Broadband Wireless Router.
This could be a great solution for small offices in remote locations, temporary offices, mobile offices in RVs, and teams at events. It essentially allows you to share one 3G broadband card instead of each worker needing a separate card.
The router includes embedded drivers for most of the popular 3G cards. You can find an updated list of supported devices and carriers at www.netgear.com/3G. Unfortunately, the device only supports USB modems and does not support PC Card or ExpressCard modems. You'll also need to first connect the USB modem to your PC or laptop to activate it and then connect it to the Netgear router.
Here are the published specs that Netgear announced at CES:
- Compatible with extensive range of 3G USB Modems and networks
- Four Ethernet ports for LAN connectivity; USB 2.0 Host WAN port
- SPI, DoS, NAT, and supports up to 5 VPN endpoints
- "Push ‘N' Connect" button based on WPS
- WiFi on/off button and Power on/off button to save energy while not in use
- Auto detection and installation process for easy setup
- Repeater configurable and static routing feature
- Advanced application based on QoS
Another thing to keep in mind with this product is that most 3G broadband carriers have fairly modest monthly bandwidth caps on their standard 3G broadband plans. If you have several people sharing one of these 3G broadband accounts every day and doing any bandwidth-intensive work then you could burn through the caps pretty quickly and end up having to pay expensive overage charges.
I asked Netgear's Som Choudhury, Product Manager of Advanced Wireless, about the bandwidth cap issue and he said that the Netgear device will track bandwidth usage and can even be set up to trigger alerts if the user knows the cap.
Jason Hiner has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Jason Hiner is Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.