Local firm claims world’s first 3G router

Mako Networks's new router rolled out in South Africa

Auckland-based Mako Networks reckons it has a world-first with its modular 3G router that is configurable for the two main global mobile broadband standards, CDMA1x EV-DO and UMTS/WCDMA, as well as fixed-line network connections such as ADSL and Ethernet.

What makes Mako’s device different is that it actually routes 3G traffic, unlike existing routers that send and receive 3G signals, but route only fixed and wi-fi LAN traffic. This means it can be used by providers to extend the reach of 3G networks to customer’s locations.

Simon Gamble, business development director of Mako Networks, formerly known as Yellow Tuna, says that as far as he is aware, Mako’s device is the first fully functional consumer 3G router in the world.

“There are a couple of other products out there that connect via 3G, but, essentially all they do is convert 3G into wireless, so to speak. Whereas our product is a fully featured router, firewall and VPN unit, with detail reporting and content filtering,” he says.

“And it just happens to connect to the internet via 3G.”

The 3G router is part of the Mako system offering that provides broadband control devices for small-to medium-sized businesses. The system is managed through Mako’s web service, and “talks” directly to devices placed at end-users’ premises.

End-users log onto Mako’s website for real-time information about what is going on in their network, and to make changes to policies and rules. Customers can see exactly what their internet connection is being used for, right down to the individual PC level, Gamble says. They can also be alerted when traffic allowances are reached.

In New Zealand, Mako’s 3G router is sold by Telecom under its Secure Me brand and costs $249.95 a month..

However, the current pricing of 3G services in New Zealand is an obstacle to uptake of the router by the local market, says Gamble.

“But there is a huge market for the router in countries that have an extensive mobile but not very good fixed-line infrastructure, like South Africa, Eastern European [countries] and India, for example,” he says.

Twenty five units have already been rolled out by Vodacom in South Africa, on the provider’s UMTS/WCDMA network, with the HSDPA upgrade.

Additional reporting by Juha Saarinen

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