Last week, Econet introduced a mobile Wi-Fi (MiFi if you want) device aimed directly at “small group” broadband users. That will be your home and small business users. In many ways therefore this product competes directly with the fixed broadband providers, especially as this comes after a broadband tariff slash 3 weeks ago by the operator. Well, competes except this is also a portable dongle of sorts.
It’s a device by the Chinese telecoms infrastructure and devices giant Huawei; a model called E5332. Some of you probably saw the first adverts in the weekly papers yesterday by Econet.
3G routers themselves are not a new phenomenon of-course but this is a big deal in terms of scale, availability and price. At US $90, the mobile Wi-Fi device is as competitive as they come and may right now be one of the lowest priced Wi-Fi routing devices locally. And it being available directly from the operator means potential customers don’t have to do their own painful product search which in turn means there’s high chance for massive adoption.
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Econet ofcourse has always been in this home and small business (and enterprise) market via it’s and ZOL and Liquid Telecom operations. ZOL has WiMax home broadband products in that space. But again not at the scale Econet can do this and definitely not with the superior technology (in terms of stability and signal strength).
In terms of features you get high speed internet with on-the-paper HSPA+ 21Mbps download and 5.7Mbps upload. We’re told that effectively you get something around 13Mbps, but that’s just “told” for now. We’ll be taking it through the paces late this week so we can either confirm that, or just tell you our experiences. You also get EDGE or GPRS when in areas without 3G.
The device also has an antenna port to boost the signal when 3G drops or in poor network areas. Check back for a review in the coming days.