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Best Buy, Sprint team up to market Mobile Hotspot

Electronics retail giant Best Buy Mobile and carrier Sprint have partnered to drive sales of the Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot by Sierra Wireless.

Overdrive lets consumers connect up to five WiFi-enabled devices simultaneously—including laptops, gaming devices, cameras and smartphones from Sprint and other carriers—through a single connection via WiFi. The partners are looking to drive retail revenue, while Sprint is also promoting its WiMax 4G network.

“At Best Buy, we are continuously looking for ways to help customers understand and maximize connectivity, whether that is staying in touch with friends, family, work or simply with technology,” said Scott Anderson, director of merchandising at Best Buy Mobile, Minneapolis, MN.

“We are also about choice, about providing as many options as we can to customers looking for products—smartphones and netbooks, among many other devices—and services such as the Geek Squad that help them stay connected,” he said.

“The Overdrive device gives us yet another option for customers looking to get the most out of mobile technology.”

Best Buy Co. Inc. is a specialty retailer of consumer electronics in the United States accounting for about 20 percent of the market.

Sprint is the No. 3 carrier in the U.S. based on number of subscribers.

Overdrive creates a connection between the Sprint 4G network and virtually all of the hundreds of millions of WiFi-enabled electronics devices owned by or available to customers today.

In the home
Through a single connection, consumers can bypass their cable provider and stream HD movies from content distribution providers such as Netflix, Amazon and Blockbuster right to their television.

Consumers can connect their Xbox 360 and game real-time with someone located across the globe.

Using the Overdrive Mobile Hotspot, consumers can also move pictures wirelessly from their camera to a digital picture frame and surf the Web on their laptop while streaming Pandora.

In the dorm
Consumers can connect virtually anywhere on a campus with 4G coverage at 4G speeds.

They can turn their iPod touch with Skype into a voice phone and make a call, or stream a live movie from Hulu or Netflix to their laptop.

Consumers can use Overdrive to keep passengers entertained in the car by streaming a TV show from Hulu to their Netbook or using a PSP gaming device to access multiple games and content.

Consumers can also use Overdrive to download music to their Zune HD and turn their 3G iPhone into a 4G device, according to Sprint.

Mobile office
Other features let consumers join a video conference, download large files, conduct a virtual home tour and stay in constant contact with their office via unified communications. 

If consumers move Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot to the workplace, it can provide enhanced WiFi performance, increased productivity and improved cost savings, according to Sprint.

Consumers can back-up or replace costly wireline connections to small branches, retail locations or home offices and share one connection on one plan when mobile with other employees and customers.

Maximum Overdrive
The Sprint Overdrive will allow Best Buy Mobile to showcase its in-store experience by demonstrating how various WiFi-enabled products work and connect together, whether in the home or on-the-go.

“The main focus will be on the in-store experience,” Mr. Anderson said. “In addition to displays and dedicated space, we have specially trained all of the Best Buy Mobile employees in the our stores that carry the Overdrive to be able to speak to its benefits and, most importantly, ensure it connects to each customer’s individual needs.”

As the first dual-mode device of its kind, Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot can be used on both the Sprint 4G network and Sprint’s Mobile Broadband Network.

This flexibility allows customers to enjoy 4G performance in any Sprint 4G market or to use Sprint’s 3G mobile broadband network when outside a 4G area.

Sprint 4G is already available in 27 markets and continues to expand to new cities, which it claims offers wireless speeds up to 10 times faster than today’s 3G network from any other national carrier.

In 2010, Sprint expects to launch service in multiple markets, including Boston, Houston, New York, San Francisco and Washington.

Sprint is harnessing the power of 4G as the majority shareholder of Clearwire, the independent company that is building the WiMAX network.

Mobile Hotspot
Key features of Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot include an LCD that provides important information such as battery life and Internet connection status, as well as a Web interface for customizing settings.

Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot also includes built-in GPS capability on 3G, MicroSD slot for up to 16 GB memory cards creating  shared storage with up to five connected devices and an extended WiFi range of up to 150 feet. 

Customers can buy Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot exclusively from Sprint for $99.99 after a $50 mail-in-rebate with a two-year service agreement. They can buy the device and sign up for 3G/4G plans at select Sprint retail stores and select Best Buy stores.

“This device is for anyone who wants to stay connected no matter when they want or where they are,” Mr. Anderson said. “And, in terms of what customers are telling us, that desire cuts across all of our demographics.

“Everyone wants that kind of accessibility,” he said. “What’s great with the Overdrive is it allows users to light up five devices at time on the 4G network.

“That’s a huge benefit to customers, whether they are going to use it for their small business or on a family road trip.”