Create Your Own 3G Hotspot with a $99 Wi-Reach

After more than two years of using the same 3G USB stick, my two-year contract with Verizon Wireless (s vz) is now complete. I’m now on month-to-month terms, and while I keep thinking of changing to a new connectivity device, I haven’t made up my mind on what to do just yet. Do I get a MiFi with Verizon? Should I consider a Sprint Overdrive (s s) and test the local WiMAX waters in Philadelphia? Or do I just stay happy with what I have? There’s a chance I may do just that — keep my current plan terms and USB adapter — but add a $99 mobile device to create my own 3G hotspot.

Connect One offers the Wi-Reach Classic and SlashGear got a peek at it during the Mobile World Congress show. Like some competing devices from Cradlepoint and others, the 3-ounce Wi-Reach takes an existing 3G USB stick and creates a Wi-Fi bubble to share the 3G connection with up to 10 devices. The built-in battery is rated for up to five hours of continuous use and recharges over a powered USB cable. SlashGear says the Wi-Reach is software upgradeable so it can support WiMAX and LTE networks once 4G coverage becomes more widespread.

The downside for me is that my current modem isn’t on the supported product list, which is comprised mainly of ZTE and Huawei devices. I may contact the Connect One support team to see if any Novatel Wireless (s nvtl) devices are or might be supported with a software update. If not, it’s back to the drawing board to see what to do for mobile broadband and connection sharing. Of course, that 21 Mbps webConnect Rocket should be available next month and I do live nearby the expected network upgrade.