TapRoot Systems is offering a free software download that converts 3G and Wi-Fi enabled smartphones into small-scale hotspots from which other wireless users can access the Internet.
WalkingHotSpot can be downloaded from TapRoot's Web site. The trial period is open-ended; trial users of the software/service would then be able to sign up for a commercial account were a carrier or service provider to add WalkingHotSpot to its menu of services or features, a TapRoot spokesman explained Monday.
The vendor said indications from early adopters have been encouraging. "This level of interest also shows a significant demand for consolidated anywhere, anytime, any-device connectivity," said Bob Bicksler, TapRoot's CEO, in a statement. "Our belief is that WalkingHotSpot provides the solution to leverage existing 3G infrastructure and smartphones already in the marketplace."
Bicksler was also quick to add that WalkingHotSpot will not compete with products offered by TapRoot's carrier partners.
The software is designed to be power-efficient, robust, and user friendly. A WalkingHotSpot-enabled smartphone can support four to five attached users easily, the spokesman said. The device types it will support include laptop PCs, MP3 media players, and gaming devices, TapRoot said.
More vendors are mining the potential of Wi-Fi access from mobile handsets and networks. Novatel Wireless and AutoNet Mobile said late last month they're using nationwide CDMA EV-DO Rev. A to turn cars into traveling Wi-Fi hotspots; devices makers like BlackBerry are adding voice-over-Wi-Fi capabilities to their handsets to supplement traditional mobile voice services.
WalkingHotSpot is built to operate on phones with the Symbian S60 and Windows Mobile 6 Professional operating systems. TapRoot said it expects to add other OSes before the end of the year, but wouldn't disclose any prospects on its shortlist.