CAT adding MiFi hotspot Product

Over at TeleGeography Comms Update they report that CAT will begin selling the Novatel Wireless MiFi Intelligent Mobile Hotspot device for subscribers on their Rev. Ev-DO network. I wish them the best of luck with it. In our own Rev A network we’ve seen utilization skyrocket with devices such as this. Granted, our business model is “flat-rate, all you can eat”, meaning our subscribers pay one monthly amount and can then use as much data as they want.

With devices such as this MiFi hotspot, multiple users can simultaneously share a single Ev-DO subscription. Although the overall throughput of the connection does not change, the link is much more likely to be used continuously throughout the day and will spend much more time operating near capacity. These devices can therefore increase average per-account utilization by 5-10 times.

The impact on the RF environment is the same as a single account. But on the wireless backhaul, the connection from the BTS to the MSC, this can seriously degrade the user experience. If leased lines (E1/T1) are used for backhaul the BTS can even force users into 1xRTT mode, completely denying them access to Ev-DO speeds.

In the MSC back office, once data from all sites gets aggregated, it does not require many of these devices operating at once before Fast Ethernet and even Gigabit Ethernet links begin blocking.  The PDSN easily can become overwhelmed, especially if it is implementing a variety of complex policies or Access Control Lists.

CAT will have to vigilantly enforce usage-based fees and impose bandwidth caps if unpaid usage were to take off.