Software purports to convert 3G phones into Wi-Fi hotspots

TapRoot Systems today announced new Windows Mobile and Symbian S60 smartphone software, claiming it enables users to convert their 3G phones into mobile Wi-Fi hotspots for a handful of users at one time.

The company said its software allows users to have up to five connections to the same Wi-Fi connection at a time. TapRoot is reportedly working on a free trial edition that lets users try the software with just one connection at a time. The company hopes to approach mobile providers and have them deploy the software as a service for a monthly fee.

Many users today find it a hassle to try and connect a smartphone with a notebook via Bluetooth or a cable, and have been left with very few alternatives for mobile Internet. Utilizing an EV-DO card is the most common way, but connections can be spotty and the service can be too expensive for a casual user to bother buying the card and paying for the monthly service. Wi-Fi connections tend to be easier to set up and manage, but this is one of the first commercial products aimed at helping users create hot spots.

Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and Alltel already offer high-speed Internet connections bundled with their phone plans, but all the companies except Sprint frown upon subscribers using their cellular networks for deploying hotspots. To help allay carriers' fears, TapRoot also introduced WHS Server, a tool phone providers can use to help manage subscriber accounts and monitor overall usage.

TapRoot promises future operating system support is in the works, though it did not provide a definite timeline as to when or if Linux-based phones will be supported.

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