Verizon said Thursday it is working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to recall 2.5 million hotspot devices after an investigation found the devices’ lithium-ion batteries could overheat and pose fire and burn hazards.
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, according to the CPSC. The model numbers are all for the same device but vary depending on how the customer purchased the device — through a consumer prepaid or postpaid plan.
“The safety of our customers is our highest priority,” Verizon said in a statement. “We are taking the situation very seriously, and we are working diligently to determine the cause of the issues with the supplier and to provide replacement devices for all of our customers, free of charge.”
The CPSC bulletin indicated Verizon had received 15 reports of the devices overheating; six of the reports involved fire damage to bedding or flooring. Two incidents included minor burn injuries, the CPSC said.
A Verizon spokesperson said in an email that about 1.3 million of the hotspot devices are currently in use by customers. The recall is focused on the entire device, not just the batteries, and customers should not try to remove the batteries themselves.
Demand for hotspots increased over the past year during the coronavirus pandemic, with schools and libraries seeking the devices for students who didn’t have internet access at home so they could complete their schoolwork remotely.
Verizon has sent a software update to the affected hotspots that are powered on that should help reduce the risk of the devices overheating, as it prevents the hotspot from charging up while it’s on. The company also recommends turning off the hotspots while they’re not in use and keeping them on flat surfaces without anything covering them. It’s also not a good idea to expose the hotspot devices to extreme temperatures for long periods, Verizon said.