Atheros Turns Cell Phone Into Access Point

The way people will use the WLAN support in their mobile phones will change during 2009. Chip maker Atheros is, for example, working on a technology that will be able to turn a mobile phone into an access point.

The phone will look just like any Wi-Fi access point or hot spot when connecting. Wi-Fi will be used between the PC and the phone, while the phone will connect to the Internet using its mobile broadband connection, meaning, for example, HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access).

Up to four users will be able to connect to the phone at the same time, and there will be support for features such as security using WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access), according to Atheros.

A phone equipped with the Wi-Fi capability will be released later this year, according to Atheros, but the company isn't ready to name any names at this point in time, spokesman Greg Wood said.

Atheros wasn't the only company showing off small form factor mobile router technology at this year's CES. Novatel Wireless also demonstrated its upcoming MiFi product, a credit-card size device that allows up to five people to share a mobile broadband link.

The MiFi is battery powered. It can cope with about four hours of active use, and has a standby time of approximately 40 hours, a Novatel spokesman said.

It also comes with an onboard Linux based operating system, which will be able to host applications developed by third parties, according to Novatel.

There will be versions supporting EV-DO Rev A or HSPA when the device ships sometime during the first half of this year. It will cost about US$200, before carrier subsidies.

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