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Helio Drops Wireless Broadband

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Remember when Helio branched into wireless broadband? Well, apparently neither did anyone else, as the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) (define) has dropped the service.

In October of 2006, Helio said it would offer EV-DO (define) service over the Sprint Nextel (Quote) 3G network. It was also going to offer Wi-Fi hotspot connections using the Boingo Wireless virtual network. Together, they were called Helio Hybrid. Users just needed to install a Helio Hybrid card (a re-branded Sierra Wireless EV-DO card) and Hybrid Connector software. Cost was going to be $85 a month. Helio has to pay Sprint for every minute of use.

Apparently the price didn’t catch on, or maybe it was the lack of marketing, or perhaps the data cap of 160 megabytes per month, or the fact that having EV-DO direct from Sprint or Verizon Wireless plus a monthly fee from Boingo didn’t cost much more… but either way, as of May 8, 2007, Helio will no longer offer the Hybrid. Customers who’ve paid ahead will get refunds.

Helio’s raison d’etre is providing handheld voice and messaging services (again, over Sprint’s network) to the youth market. The company is a joint venture of SK Telecom of South Korea and EarthLink in the U.S. It recently announced the Ocean dual-slider phone, to come later in 2007, which some see as primary competition for Apple’s (Quote) iPhone, though the Ocean lacks Wi-Fi support. However, it does support EV-DO — and the iPhone will not, since it’s geared to AT&T/Cingular. While AT&T does offer 3G in the form of HSDPA, the iPhone will only support the slower EDGE network.

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