Aug 11, 2011

How to share your 3G or 4G USB mobile broadband connection

Many of my clients are using mobile broadband devices (air cards, USB modems, data modems, etc.) such as the Pantech UML290 from Verizon. This is a USB device that plugs into your laptop and gives you internet access via the wireless phone network. Recently I needed to find a way to share that single connection with a few different laptops.  I had originally looked into buying a regular wifi router and turning it into an access point but then I stumbled onto a piece of hardware built for this exact purpose.

I found the Cradlepoint PHS300 Personal Hotspot .

CradlePoint PHS300 Personal Hotspot - Wireless access point - 802.11b/g (Version 2.0/2.5.3)

This little device is about the size of an iPhone and it's a wifi router that uses your USB modem to connect to the internet.  It's currently about $55 on Amazon.com.  So rather than plugging your USB modem into your laptop, you plug it directly into the Cradlepoint Hotspot.  Once it establishes a connection to your wireless carriers mobile network, it then broadcasts a local wifi signal that you can connect multiple devices to (laptops, iPhones, iPads, etc.)

I setup one of these guys last week and so far it's been working great!  It was a little tricky to configure at first.  I would make sure you download the firmware and drivers ahead of time from the Cradlepoint website. You'll probably be able to connect your laptop to the default wifi network out of the box but the cellular connection may not work until you update the firmware to support the latest USB mobile devices. So if you already have the firmware downloaded, you'll be able to install it in the device.  Their website has a list of all of the currently supported devices.  It DOES support some of the newer 4G devices such as the Pantech UML290 that I mentioned earlier.