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Friday, October 29, 2010, 05:40 am PT (08:40 am ET)

Sprint CEO says Apple's Wi-Fi iPad has boosted wireless hotspot sales

Though the iPad is not available for use directly on Sprint's network, owners of the Wi-Fi-only model have helped to increase sales of the carrier's Overdrive MiFi wireless hotspot, Sprint's CEO has revealed.

In an interview with GigaOm, Dan Hesse of Sprint said that his company has seen an increase in demand for its 3G and 4G Overdrive wireless hotspot since the iPad launched this year. The chief executive of the third-largest carrier in the U.S. said that most iPads being sold are the Wi-Fi-only model, and those users are relying on devices like the Overdrive for connectivity on the go.

In April, after the iPad launched, Sprint was quick to capitalize on the initial success of the device, offering a "4G case" for the tablet. The case holds a user's iPad, as well as a 4G Overdrive mobile hotspot for connectivity shared over Wi-Fi.

Sprint earlier this year also featured the iPhone in a commercial for the Overdrive. The TV spot touted that Sprint's 4G connectivity is up to 10 times faster than AT&T's 3G speeds.

While Sprint has sold Overdrives and cases specifically for the iPad, the carrier still does not have the right to sell Apple's touchscreen tablet. This week, the first two U.S. carriers to sell the iPad — Verizon and AT&T — began offering the device at their retail stores.

Like Sprint, Verizon's wireless network is not compatible with Apple's iPad model that includes built-in 3G connectivity. To get around that, Verizon has bundled its own MiFi hotspot with sales of the device. The nation's largest wireless carrier also offers 1GB of data for $20 per month for iPad users.

GigaOm also asked Hesse about the possibility of the iPhone appearing on his company's network. The CEO, however, declined to comment, and noted that his company does not reveal conversations it has with third parties.