Selasa, 08 Juni 2010

One Solution for China’s Early IPad Adopters

Electronics sellers in China are pushing wireless modems as a solution for Apple iPad users who can only get online when close to a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The Huawei E5

Apple has yet to announce a release date for the iPad in China, but some estimate that as many as thousands of early adopters in China have already purchased the iPad. Consumers can get iPads with both Wi-Fi and high speed 3G capabilities, but 3G iPads cost more and the SIM cards used to go online, which can be purchased from Chinese carrier China Unicom, must be cut in half to fit the slot in the iPad.

A growing selection of wireless modems now offer a cheaper way to connect iPads to the Internet anywhere, and also include the option of connecting multiple devices simultaneously — and according to vendors, people in China are snapping them up. Huawei’s E5 modem, which can connect to China Unicom’s 3G network, is particularly popular. The modem creates a Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing up to five devices to connect wirelessly to the 3G service, similar to devices currently being sold in the U.S. like the Novatel MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot from Verizon Wireless and Sprint.

The devices and services are far cheaper in China, making them a more worthwhile proposition than pairing a Wi-Fi-only iPad with similar devices in the U.S. An E5 device and one year of service, including a monthly data allowance of one gigabyte from China Unicom, costs less than $300. In the U.S., a MiFi 2200 with one year of service from Verizon Wireless, including a monthly data allowance of 250 megabytes, costs $650 excluding taxes and fees. In effect, purchasing a Wi-Fi iPad in China with an E5 modem and 3G service costs less and has more capabilities than purchasing a pricier 3G iPad with 3G service for only the iPad.

A Huawei spokeswoman said the company had sold 1.5 million E5 wireless modems as of the end of the first quarter, since the third quarter last year, but declined to say how many were sold in China, where the device was released in the first quarter of the year. She added that the E5 is also available in other regions including Europe and the Middle East, and will be released in North America later this year (though service plans vary by operator).

– Loretta Chao, with contributions from Bai Lin

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