Verizon said Thursday that it is working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to recall 2.5 million hotspot devices after an investigation found that the devices’ lithium-ion batteries could overheat and pose a fire and burn hazard.
The Ellipsis Jetpack mobile hotspot models MHS900L, MHS900LS, and MHS900LPP were imported by Franklin Wireless Corp. and sold between April 2017 and March of this year, the CPSC said. The model numbers are all for the same device but vary depending on how the customer purchased the device – through a prepaid or postpaid consumer plan.
“The safety of our customers is our highest priority,” Verizon said in a statement. “We take the situation very seriously and are working hard to determine the cause of the problems with the vendor and to provide all of our customers with replacement devices at no charge.”
The CPSC bulletin states that Verizon received 15 reports of devices overheating; six of the reports involved fire damage to bedding or carpeting. Two incidents involved minor burns, according to the CPSC.
A Verizon spokesperson said in an email to The Verge that about 1.3 million of the hotspot devices are currently in use by customers. The recall targets the entire device, not just the batteries, and customers should not attempt to remove the batteries themselves.
Demand for hotspots increased over the past year during the coronavirus pandemic as schools and libraries sought to use the devices for students who did not have Internet access at home so they could complete their school work remotely.
Verizon has sent a software update to affected hotspots that should help reduce the risk of the devices overheating, as it prevents the hotspot from charging while on. The company also recommends that hotspots be turned off when not in use and that they are kept on a flat surface with nothing over them. It’s also not a good idea to expose hotspot devices to extreme temperatures for long periods of time, Verizon says.
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