Using Your Smartphone As Wi-fi

by Chad Figueiredo - Date: 2010-09-17 - Word Count: 561 Share This!

Using your cell phone to provide Wi-Fi to your laptop or iPad has now become an everyday occurrence. How is this possible? It is a combination of which smartphone you are using or the type of software. If you own a BlackBerry, there is a way to tether it to your laptop. There is also third party software and now, Android 2.2 has made using Wi-Fi as simple as adding on an application.

To start, Android's 2.2 is now able to turn certain Android handsets into mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. These hotspots can share 3G connections with up to eight other Wi-Fi enabled devices. Android 2.2 by Google was released under the name Froyo. Of course Froyoo offers many things but it's most talked about feature is its mobile hotspot support, something that was already enabled on the Android 2.1 powered HTC Evo 4G. What does this hot spot feature involve? When you use your 3G or 4G (in the case of the Evo 4G) Android phone, you will broadcast its data connection over Wi-Fi, which is then sharable with up to eight other devices. You can also tether a laptop directly over USB. Will this cost more? Possibly - depending on your carrier. Many carriers could start charging an extra $30 or more a month for a mobile hotspot plan.

Who else is on the playing field for walking Wi-Fi? According to Techcrunch, there is a company based in North Carolina called TapRoot Systems who has developed what they call WalkingHotSpot software. This software was designed to effectively turn a Wi-Fi- and mobile broadband-enabled handset into a Wi-Fi router. Techcrunch says that WalkingHotSpot will be available only for Windows Mobile or Symbian Series 60 smartphones. CEO of TapRoot, Bob Bicksler said, "A free demo version will be available for individuals to download from TapRoot's Web site. However, the demo will only support one Wi-Fi connection at a time."

The goal of TapRoot, according to the company, is 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 officials said they do not plan to sell directly to consumers.

While many 3G cell phones or phones that support mobile broadband for data services, already may be used as notebook modems through either the Bluetooth application or cable connections - having software that makes the process easier is what companies are competing for.

Right now, some systems, such as those based on EVDO (mobile broadband technology used by Spring and Verizon) cannot handle voice and data connections at the same time. According to TechCrunch, if a call came in while you were downloading a file through a WalkingHotSpot Wi-Fi connection, the download would be interrupted.

As for those people who own BlackBerrys, tethering your device to a laptop for WiFi requires only the installation of the latest version of RIM's BlackBerry Desktop Manager. There is a stipulation with BlackBerry though. One has to check with their wireless service provider before attempting to use this type of connection just in case there are costly tether fees.

According to Techcrunch, as carriers begin rolling out newer and faster technologies, the demand for tethering and mobile hot spots will only increase. Whether this will be made available so easily could depend on the carriers and whether they can charge extra for the service.

Related Tags: smartphone, wi-fi, blackberry, android, htc evo, taproot

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