Turn a Smart Phone into a Wi-Fi Hot Spot

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Got a 3G smartphone with Wi-Fi? Then you might be soon be able to use it as a Wi-Fi hotspot for connecting your notebook or any other Wi-Fi enabled device to the Internet.

North Carolina-based TapRoot Systems today announced its WalkingHotSpot software, designed to effectively turn a Wi-Fi- and mobile broadband-enabled handset into a Wi-Fi router. At launch, WalkingHotSpot will be available only for Windows Mobile or Symbian Series 60 smartphones. TapRoot CEO Bob Bicksler said.

A free demo version will be available for individuals to download from TapRoot's Web site, Bicksler said. However, the demo will only support one Wi-Fi connection at a time.

TapRoot ultimately hopes to sell the full-featured product (which supports multiple simultaneous Wi-Fi connections) to carriers, who would be able to offer it to their customers, probably as a paid service. TapRoot does not plan to sell directly to consumers.

Ease of Wi-Fi

Many 3G cell phones--phones that support mobile broadband for data services--can already be used as notebook modems, either via Bluetooth or cable connections. But setup of these connections can be a hassle--Wi-Fi connections are usually fairly easy to set up.

Bicksler says WalkingHotSpot will support any flavor of mobile broadband. However only phones based on HSDPA/UMTS (AT&T Wireless' high-speed service) will be able to support WalkingHotSpot Wi-Fi service and voice calls simultaneously.

Those based on EVDO (the mobile broadband technology used by Sprint and Verizon Wireless) cannot handle voice and data connections at the same time. If a call came in while you were downloading a file through a WalkingHotSpot Wi-Fi connection, the download would be interrupted.  However this is a limitation of EVDO technology, so the same would hold true for use of these phones as modems via Bluetooth or a cable.

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