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Mobile WiFi/3G hotspot goes multi-network, opens APIs

Aug 4, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Novatel Wireless announced a new multi-network version of its Linux-based “MiFi” mobile hotspot, supporting HSPA, UMTS, EDGE and GPRS. The MiFi 2372 appears to be similar to Novatel's Europe-targeted MiFi 2352, but adds UMTS (CDMA) support, and is accompanied with a new OpenCGI API designed to program the device.

Like the original, pocket-sized MiFi 2200 announced in December, the pocket-sized MiFi 2372 is a low-cost WiFi/3G bridge/router that connects up to five WiFi users to share the bandwidth of 3G networks. The device is primarily intended for mobile teams that need to quickly set up ad hoc workgroups in places with little or no existing Internet infrastructure. It's also billed as being a consumer-oriented "mobile hotspot for the beach."

The CDMA-compatible MiFi 2200 was introduced in the U.S. by Verizon Wireless in April, followed by Sprint. Meanwhile, a modified MiFi 2352 model (pictured below), with HSPA support and the addition of a microSDHC slot, was introduced by Telefonica in Spain in the first quarter.

The MiFi 2352 pictured here appears to be the model for the new MiFi 2372 version, which adds UMTS/CDMA support

Novatel did not offer many technical details on the new MiFi 2372, but the device appears to be similar to the MiFi 2352, except for the addition of CDMA, making it compatible with a wide variety of 3G networks around the world. The MiFi 2372 is touted as having "a powerful on-board applications processor capable of delivering rich software applications and media." Other touted features include internal flash, storage, up to 16GB of expandable microSD memory, and GPS.

Novatel did not announce where the MiFi 2372 might be offered, but notes that it can be used on any major 3G network in the world. It seems likely that it might be introduced for U.S. HSPA networks, providing U.S. MiFi users with up to twice the bandwidth of the CDMA-only MiFi 2200, with 7.2Mbps downloads and 5.76Mbps uploads.

OpenCGI development platform

Shortly before announcing the MiFi 2372, Novatel Wireless released the first installment of its promised development platform for embedded Linux-based MiFi devices. In addition to publishing its MiFi Web Server OpenCGI (Common Gateway Interface ) applications programming interfaces (APIs) to the developer community, it released a programmer guide on its Novatel Developer's Lounge site, and set up a developers forum.

The OpenCGI scripts are executed in the MiFi's Linux firmware, according to a FAQ at the Developer's Lounge. Novatel has started by offering only the portion of the OpenCGI APIs associated with the MiFi's built-in web server, with the understanding that a more complete set of APIs will follow. In fact, the initial release offers only two OpenCGI commands: Request device status (getStatus) and obtain GPS location (getlastfix).

According to a statement by Novatel, "Releasing the Web server CGI is designed as the first step in enabling developers to leverage MiFi's open CGI interface and access the onboard processing capabilities of the MiFi line of Intelligent Mobile Hotspots."

The APIs and scripts apply to all three MiFi models, no matter what 3G technology is used, says Novatel. Wireless operators may restrict some features, however, says the FAQ . For example, only the Sprint MiFi version currently has enabled GPS functions.

Another caveat is that while the current release of MiFi is open to WiFi connection requests, the scripts are blocked on 3G requests for security reasons. A future release promises new security features that would enable remote 3G access, says the FAQ.

Stated Peter Leparulo, chairman and CEO of Novatel Wireless, "The availability of the MiFi 2372 HSPA will significantly expand the addressable market for MiFi technology, as well as offering users unrivaled high speed access to multiple devices virtually anywhere they go around the globe."

Stated Rob Hadley, CMO of Novatel Wireless, "We are very excited about opening the software interfaces of MiFi to the developer community. This is the first of several steps in building a vibrant third-party developer community."


Novatel Wireless did not provide pricing or availability information on the MiFi 2372. The web server portion of the MiFi OpenCGI APIs may be found at the Novatel Wireless Developer's Lounge, here. More information on the MiFi 2200 and MiFi 2352 may be found here.

More LinuxDevices coverage of the MiFi devices may be found in the first three links below.

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