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Linux device bridges 3G, WiFi in Spain

Feb 18, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Telefonica Espana will offer a pocket-sized, hacker-friendly, Linux WiFi/3G bridge/router to its customers, according to supplier Novatel Wireless. The MiFi 2352 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot connects up to five WiFi users to Telefonica's 3G HSPA network, which is capable of downstream data rates of 7.2Mbps.

(Click for larger view of the MiFi)

Telefonica has been a European pioneer of “3.5G” HSPA networking, which is based on WCDMA technology developed by Qualcomm and China's national telecom provider. Telefonica's mobile customers reportedly enjoy data rates of 1.4Mbps upstream, and 3.6Mbps downstream. PC users, meanwhile, can purchase Huawei E270 USB modems said to double those rates on the same network.

Novatel Wireless offered scant information on its MiFi device when it was announced in December, and although the company has yet to post a detailed spec list, it has now revealed some more details, such as a GPS capability.

After installation of a Telefonica SIM card for HSPA, the MiFi device can distribute the HSPA bandwidth among up to five WiFi-capable devices within a 10-meter radius, says the company. The MiFi relies exclusively on the cellular network for its upstream link, and apparently cannot route traffic over a WiFi hotspot, when available, nor over wired Ethernet (it lacks an Ethernet port). MiFi seems intended exclusively for mobile teams that need to quickly set up ad hoc workgroups in places with little or no existing Internet infrastructure.

Another option might be to use a modern Linux distribution on a notebook equipped with a supported 3G data card (Web reports suggest Telefonica's Huawei E270 works under at least some Linux distributions). Starting with Fedora 10, Linux gained a version of NetworkManager supporting the easy creation of ad hoc networks, as shown in the screenshot below:

Fedora 10's snazzy NetworkManager
(Click for review of Fedora 10)

Mobile and location aware

As previously reported, the pocket-sized MiFi will offer a battery that can power the device for four hours under active use, and 40 hours while idle. Other new details include a MicroSD slot supporting high-capacity cards up to 16GB, and on-board GPS capabilities.

Novatel Wireless confirmed that the MiFi runs an open embedded Linux operating system, and the company says it will encourage the development of third party applications for the MiFi. Meanwhile, planned applications include auto VPN, automatic syncing of email, location-based applications, and optional remote management capabilities for enterprise IT managers. User-specific “landing pages” will be available on the device that “consolidate and personalize mobile Internet services,” and act as a platform for wireless operators to offer content and services, says the company.


The MiFi will be commercially available from Telefonica in Spain in the first quarter of 2009, says the company. In other Telefonica news, the Spanish carrier recently announced it would ship a LiMo-compliant phone sometime this year

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