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Sprint features Apple iPhone in 4G Wi-Fi hotspot advertisement

U.S. wireless carrier Sprint has featured the iPhone and criticized the exclusive wireless provider of Apple's handset, AT&T, in a new advertisement touting the ability to share its 4G network with a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Posted to YouTube this week, the commercial, entitled "Make Your iPhone 4G," features the Overdrive device from Sprint, which can allow an iPhone — or any Wi-Fi capable device — to access the carrier's high-speed 4G network. Apple's handset, which is exclusive to AT&T, is the focal point of the commercial.

The commercial features two men on a park bench, and one character, Steve, has an iPhone that his friend, Matt, says is "limited to AT&T's 3G speeds." The pitchman says that the Overdrive 4G mobile hotspot from Sprint can make data connections with the iPhone "up to 10 times faster."

After connecting the iPhone to the Sprint Overdrive Wi-Fi network, the commercial shows a video loading instantly on the device.

"Whatever you do," the commercial concludes, "do it up to ten times faster with 4G from Sprint."

The advertisement carries an approach similar to one that competitor Verizon hopes to take with the forthcoming iPad from Apple. Earlier this month, it was revealed that Verizon has asked its employees to pitch data plans for the iPad that can be shared with a mobile hotspot device like a MiFi.

The internal memo from Verizon called the impending launch of the iPad, set to debut on April 3, an "opportunity" to court new customers. Verizon salespeople were asked to convince customers to buy a Wi-Fi-only version of the iPad and connect it to the Verizon 3G network with a MiFi.

However, while the iPad can be purchased contract-free and without a data plan, the iPhone is tied to AT&T's voice and data network in the U.S. Anyone who used an iPhone with a Sprint Overdrive would have to pay for two wireless data plans in order to have access to both the iPhone and the Sprint 4G network.

As a contract-free purchase, users can buy a 3G-enabled version of the iPad starting at $629. The AT&T network access can be purchased — or canceled — at any time directly from the iPad. It costs $15 per month for 250MB, or $30 for unlimited access.

Though the device ships unlocked, due to hardware limitations it will only have access to AT&T's 3G data network in the U.S. But devices like the MiFi and Overdrive could allow connections with alternative carriers like Verizon and Sprint.