LONDON-Users hot for Wi-Fi hot spots need look no further than a couple of nifty software solutions that help spread the wealth when it comes to Wi-Fi access.
At the Symbian Smartphone Show here, both TapRoot Systems and WeFi.com demonstrated solutions that help users get Wi-Fi access in innovative, cost-effective ways.
TapRoot Systems said its WalkingHotSpot transforms Windows Mobile 6 and S60 3G/Wi-Fi smart phones into “walking” hot spots. Users can securely retrieve e-mails and browse the Internet on Wi-Fi-enabled devices such as laptops and MP3 players. Wireless subscribers can forget about data cards, cables, dongles and multiple service and hot-spot plans, because WalkingHotSpot allows the option of consolidating connectivity subscriptions and expenses into one economical solution.
In addition to appearing at the Symbian show, the WalkingHotSpot team is touring Europe to promote the technology.
“WalkingHotSpot was launched as a beta trial earlier this year, and Europe has proven to be one of our top markets,” said Bob Bicksler, CEO of TapRoot Systems. “Combining the proliferation of smart phones in Europe with the mature 3G infrastructure makes a strong user scenario for WalkingHotSpot. We see Europe as a significant market for this application. With WalkingHotSpot, users can feel confident they have a reliable, secure, inexpensive and readily available Internet connection wherever and whenever they need it.”
TapRoot Systems officials said Symbian OS and Microsoft Windows Mobile smart-phone users can purchase WalkingHotSpot for a one-time fee of $24.99 for the lifetime of the phone or as a monthly plan for $6.99. A seven-day free trial is available to new users, the company said.
WeFi.com, which also demonstrated its wares at the conference, provides software that, when loaded onto a laptop or mobile device, automatically detects and qualifies all Wi-Fi access points within range and connects the user to the spot with the best Internet connection. If the WeFi software detects a new access point, it allows the user to be the first to map it. WeFi also provides users with instant messaging tools, allowing them to create a buddy list and to see where their friends are currently connected.
Vision of a Free, Global Wi-Fi Network
Alexander Zaidelson, mobile product manager at WeFi.com, said WeFi is community-driven, in that each person using WeFi plays a part in expanding the network. It will not take much to create a global network of free Wi-Fi connectivity, he said. And when that occurs, all users will get to enjoy using the Internet whenever and wherever they want, he said.
“We’re building the world’s biggest Wi-Fi network-built by the community for the community,” Zaidelson said. The WeFi database now has more than 8 million access points and counting in 215 countries, he said. “We were surprised that the number grew so high because our target was 1 million, but now, based on the rate of growth, we expect to hit 15 million access points.”
While the base version of WeFi is free for anybody to use, the company is planning to roll out a “premium version” that will provide users with access to commercial Wi-Fi networks, Zaidelson said. Pricing for the premium version has not been established, but it is likely to be less expensive than the going rate for typical commercial access or subscriptions for Wi-Fi, he said.
According to the company’s Web site, how WeFi works is:
“User A tries to connect in a previously ‘un-WeFied’ territory. The software quickly finds the best available connection. This information is then sent to the WeFi server. When User B tries to connect, the WeFi software uses the connectivity data already gathered, saving her time and effort. As more users join, more Wi-Fi data is collected and mapped. This helps everyone find free Wi-Fi more easily. The world’s Wi-Fi is being mapped (by our users), creating a global virtual wireless network…“
The WeFi software supports Nokia phones and Windows Mobile devices, and the laptop software runs on Windows and Macs, Zaidelson said. An iPhone version will be released in a few weeks, he added.