Novatel’s 3G for home box

3G is prompting many of the smaller players to think different. Earlier I wrote about the mobile broadband gateways that are being introduced in Germany by O2 and Vodafone. IP Wireless has introduced a product that taps into 3G UMTS. Now Novatel Wireless is developing a new MBG, strangely called Ovation MCU 1200 and will launch this product in mid-2005. The WAN connectivity is via UMTS/3G network, but it is distributed locally through 802.11 b/g networks. I wonder how effective these devices will be in the near term. My experience with UMTS in San Francisco has been good, not great. I know the upload speeds are too slow to basically allow decent VoIP calls. And given how cheap even the basic broadband is in the US, the 3G mobile gateways will struggle to find mass acceptance. Perhaps these are good solutions for markets where there is no cheap wired option, like Asia or parts of Latin America. Still, I welcome the desire to innovate and extend 3G beyond a phone.