Vodafone on Monday launched a portable WiFi hotspot that allows up to five WiFi-capable devices to connect at once and access the Internet via mobile broadband. Called R201, the Huawei-made device runs on quad-band GSM and tri-band UMTS networks – including HSPA – and can support connection speeds of up to 7.2 Mbps on the downlink and 5.76 Mbps on the uplink.Image is Loading....

“The Vodafone R201 Mobile WiFi device enables our customers to take the WiFi connectivity experience they have at home or in the office everywhere with them,” said Huw Medcraft, director of mobile broadband at Vodafone, in a statement.

The portable hotspot also has 256 MB of on-board memory, and supports SD memory cards of up to 32 GB for storing digital media such as photos, music and video, which can then be shared between connected devices such as laptops, netbooks, smartphones and gaming devices.Image is Loading....

“We know that consumers in particular now have an array of WiFi-enabled devices that they use both at home and on the move – the R201 allows them to use them all in a highly convenient way,” commented Medcraft.

In the U.K. the gadget is being offered to consumers on 18-month contracts starting at £15 per month, with an upfront device fee of £49 and a 3-GB monthly usage cap. For £25 per month, the R201 comes fully subsidised with a 5-GB cap.

Vodafone is also pitching its portable hotspot to small businesses.

“The device is particularly attractive to small and home office workers as it can be used to map network drives and share files, boosting their collaborative capabilities on the move,” said Vodafone. Vodafone said it plans to roll out the R201 in various markets across its operating footprint in 2010.