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Wireless Networking Communications Transportation United Kingdom

A Wireless Hotspot For Your Car — Why Not? 135

nk497 writes "UK mobile operator 3 has unveiled a wireless hotspot for cars. It's essentially a repackaged version of their MiFi wireless router, which lets users create their own wireless hotspot using the 3G network. While drivers will hopefully steer away from using the web at the wheel, 3 predicts the mobile hotspot will let passengers entertain themselves as well as offer a hookup to email, music and traffic data."
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A Wireless Hotspot For Your Car — Why Not?

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  • Car hotspot? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @03:25PM (#31780674)
    Not 'Why not?', but rather 'Why?'
    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Tailgate parties? Beach parties? Any outdoor activity that isn't in a hot spot?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by garcia ( 6573 )

      Why? Because when I'm driving 27 hours to the beach from Minnesota I'll want true Internet access in my car, not just my iPhone?

    • by rm999 ( 775449 )

      Well, Internet in your car would replace standard/satellite radio and gps units. There is just too much money in those industries for it to not happen.

      I still can't think of why not - most people I know already carry a 3g connection with them all the time. Why not actually use that in the car?

      I already pair my iPhone to my car's stereo via bluetooth to listen to internet radio. Google is leading the charge to put free GPS units in everyone's cars. If I owned stock in any sort of GPS or terrestrial/satellite

      • #whatcouldpossiblygowrong
      • I only use it for podcasts.

        The first time I tried it I was like, no $%^4 it works!

        The next time I tried it, I was like wow, I can change tracks on my phone from my steering wheel!

        The next time I tried it, I turned it up to a decent enough level and was utterly disapointed.

        Now I use bluetooth for making calls, usb for "my music" aux in for my wife's zuneHD.

        I have a soney MEX-BT5700. Maybe it's just sony, but I'm not a huge fan of bluetooth for anything but recieving calls in the car. That and to get the mu

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      1. RVs
      2. Passenger

      If you are in a car with a bunch of kids it may be useful for them to entertain themselves.
      Also when my wife and I evacuated from Hurricane Frances it would have been great if one of use could have hit to get updates.We where in a panic that some friends of ours where going to get trapped in their cars by the storm. It would have been a comfort to know that it slowed way down and weakened. Frankly the radio wasn't a lot of help with info.

      • If you are in a car with a bunch of kids it may be useful for them to entertain themselves.

        "Dad, I'm lagging out in Dalaran again!"

        Thanks. But no.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by twisteddk ( 201366 )

        Admittedly, having internet access in your car is "nice" on occasion.
        However, The article isn't about internet access, but about a mobile hotspot. Essentially connecting a wireless router to a wireless internetconnection (3G, UMTS, sattelite, whatever).

        I believe this is the "why" the original poster is asking. Because if you have a wireless internet connection already..... Why would you WANT to turn it into a hotspot ? Exactly how often do you feel the need for attaching 2 or more computers to the internet

        • "... Why would you WANT to turn it into a hotspot ? Exactly how often do you feel the need for attaching 2 or more computers to the internet while driving your car ? I'd wager not very often."

          I need to connect my wireless only Ipad during driving, so that I can type emails and watch youtube during the commute.

        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          Why is simple Two kids with Gameboys, Mom or dad with a netbook, and Pandora streaming for the driver.

          From a European point of view it may not make a lot of sense but the distances in the US change that. To give you an example when my wife and I drive to her mothers house for Christmas it takes two days to get there and the trip is around 2000 Km each way. In fact it is close to a 10 hour drive just to leave our state! To put that in EU terms the distance from where I live in South Florida to my Mother in

      • You should be modded to +15 insightful.

    • A car is kind of a marginal place for WiFi - it's limited to passengers and people who are parked. At least with the regular MiFi you can take it with you somewhere else, which would make it more suitable for the "mobile professional" or even the family vacation. Is this service going to cost something like $60/mo as well? That'd be a little steep - it probably makes sense for the carpool/vanpool circuit, but that's not what I'd call a massive market opportunity or anything. Maybe if you knock a few tens o
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AvitarX ( 172628 )

        Yeah, because pandora would be useless in a car only occupied by the driver.

        This is not marginal, it is good that a non-manufacturer is working on this, as however much they charge, it's gonna be less than GM would for the same thing. Once internet in car becomes available like that, things will start to take advantage of it. Something like a iPad, or an Android device would be great to have instead of a stereo in a car. Just a flat screen 5-9 inches where my disk changer is. I wouldn't even need to loo

    • by temojen ( 678985 )
      For most users it may be of limited utility, But I can see it being useful for technicians who may want to be able to connect customers laptops to mobile hotspots to download patches etc, as well as a host of other uses. I've thought of doing this (albeit with a Dlink DiR-655 and rocket stick, not some $300 purpose built device).
    • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Locke2005 ( 849178 )
      One word: kids. Drop one of these in place, hand each of 5 kids a Nintendo DS, and watch them play games and leave you alone for the entire trip (At $190, even the new DS XL is cheaper than a netbook, as well as traveling better.) I already have an AC inverter plugged into the "cigarette lighter" DC plug for the purpose of recharging Nintendos and cellphones.
    • I'm on a long drive. The passenger in my car is bored and wants to browse the Internet. There are kids in the back who are bored with their books and want to play on . I'm driving, my wife has a laptop and wants to check the Traffic on Google Maps. We want to stream through our car stereo.

      Yes, there are other options for some of these issues but a Mobile Hotspot seems better and cheaper then many of the alternatives.

      I'm not sure why Slashdot has an article on this. Mobile 3G Hotspots

    • streaming music.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why you ask?

      Because I'm rarely outside of wifi distance from my or my wife's car.
      Because my car has it's own battery and backup generator.
      Because I want to access my car's door locks, alarm system, etc.. directly without paying a 3rd party like On-Star.
      Because I want to connect my car to my home automation for too many new capabilities to list.

      But most importantly.... Because it's cool!

    • Why? Well, many guys can drive one handed... keeping one hand at 10 and one hand at oh, oh, oh... Of course if you get in a crash the air bag burns on your pecker would be a bitch.
    • by sartin ( 238198 )


      Can't answer the general question, but personally I'll be setting up something similar this summer for a two month round-the-US road trip. Having the WiFi will enable my wife to work while we travel. That's the difference between her coming on the trip and staying at home.

  • Sign me up (Score:4, Insightful)

    by quantumplacet ( 1195335 ) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @03:26PM (#31780690)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Does "three strikes" shut off your car?

  • Been doing this for years.

    1. Plug HTC WM phone into charger outlet.
    2. Activate WMWiFiRouter [] app to share out Sprint 3G over USB, wireless, or bluetooth.
    3. ?????
    4. Profit!

    • by uradu ( 10768 )

      Yep, a mobile phone is a much more natural way of doing that. Why pay for yet another contract?! Using WiFi Tether on Android whenever the need arises.

      • by Dr. Zim ( 21278 )

        Amen. Works perfect on the G1 with Cyanogen's mod and T-Mobile doesn't seem to care.

        • by karnal ( 22275 )

          Actually, all of the HTC phones that run Windows Mobile can get the HTC wifi sharing app (looks @ phone) - on my touch pro (ATTfuze) it's in the comm manager at the bottom. It will share the media net connection without having to pay for the "tethering" program.

          I've used it just a handful of times that I needed to test openvpn for clients. No one has fussed about it yet, and from what I've read, unless you're insanely idiotic about bandwidth on the computer/phone (torrent of a DVD etc) really there's no r

    • Me too. I currently use my android based phone with a 'wifi tether' app, which can share the 3g over wifi or bluetooth. I have a CarPC in my car for wife/kids, it gets internet from phone, so they can surf on long trips.
    • by Otto ( 17870 )

      Any jailbroken iPhone and the MyWi app works perfectly for this sort of thing as well.

    • The first time I saw a LAN in a car was San Diego Usenix in ?1993?. It was Phil Karn's (KA9Q) car, and it was really just a thinwire Ethernet neatly installed from the front seat to the trunk. Laptops were much bigger then - he had a large clunky 386 machine in the front seat, and the alpha and beta versions of the Qualcomm cellular radios in the trunk. We were able to connect to a cell site at something like 9600 baud, and telnet to the Bell Labs firewall, which happily rejected our attempt to log in as

    • by thijsh ( 910751 )
      You joke, but step 3 is easy for me: 'work'. I often use WMWifiRouter to have full access to the web on my laptop everywhere, and it's very useful in my like of work. Here in Amsterdam the average 3G speed beats the low tier ADSL easy. And the contract is no big deal, I already have unlimited fast 3G for € 10 per month. easily worth it. Oh and while were recommending great software: if you add Pocket Player (google it) you can also stream thousands of radio stations over the mobile net! I hook my phone
  • Extreme! (Score:3, Funny)

    by stimpleton ( 732392 ) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @03:28PM (#31780706)
    Awesome! You could steer your car with one hand while holding a game controller in the other while playing a friend. Double points if its a driving game.
    • Even better! You can rig your steering wheel to be a game controller and play a driving game right from your car's steering wheel!! What could possibly go wrong?!

      Nothing. Is what could go wrong. Nothing.

  • O goody (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DeadDecoy ( 877617 ) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @03:28PM (#31780710)
    Now I can look forward to people driving and twittering and emailing and watching youtube. On second thought, the resulting mayhem might be fun to put on youtube. It has a sort of Escher-esc appeal to you it. Jackass recorded on youtube crashing while watching youtube.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Why 'now' and not years ago when people started buying smartphones that could do all that?

    • Re:O goody (Score:5, Funny)

      by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @03:58PM (#31781090)

      I foresee people getting rear-ended because the idiot behind them was tailgating to get a better signal off their unsecured AP. It'll give "wardriving" a whole new meaning.

      • The next remake being planned by Hollywood: Mad Max, beyond MiFi, starring Mel Gibson, coming to a theater near you!

      • Re:O goody (Score:5, Interesting)

        by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Thursday April 08, 2010 @05:01PM (#31781824)

        Already happened to me... in a way.

        Was driving with across the US with a buddy on my laptop with a Verizon Wireless EVDO card. We decided to test it by entering a $150 dollar online poker tournament and we were doing very very well... until the signal went out.

        I could have made a u-turn and went back to good signal, but that would have defeated the spirit of the test. So I sped up to about 105 mph. Right when we got back into the tournament (only lost about 10-15 hands) I looked up and noticed the state trooper behind us.

        He had been following with his lights on for about 10 minutes.

        To add insult to injury, the dipshit next to me went all in with 22's against a bigger stack while I was explaining to the state trooper that I was just tired and concentrating on the road in front of me.

        Net Loss: $325

        So yeah, there could be some distractions with a 3g/4g network available in the car.

        • Distraction?

          The type of person who will speed up to 105 MPH and not notice a trooper behind him for 10 minutes seems to me the kind of person who would also get distracted by shiny flashy traffic signals.

          Do us a favor and take a bus next time.

    • heaven knows what he was doing with it, I doubt that wifi was available while moving let alone public in his range...

      seen conversions for it into various vehicles on the net...

      hell if anything cars are becoming filled with too many distractions, my friends cx7 has more than a dozen buttons on the steering wheel! Ford is equipping newer cars with customizable displays, some that are interactive through, you guessed it, steering wheel controls. These are at the same line as the speedometer, which means eye

      • by BobMcD ( 601576 )

        Distracted driving now seems to be a feature of cars.

        Well sure, but it was in the past as well. Ever since they added those pesky vanity mirrors, radios and (gasp) passengers, drivers have been finding themselves splitting their attention between driving and distractions in the car.

        On the way home from Easter I was absolutely bugging the hell out of my wife by looking at her while she was driving. Just looking. Not saying or doing anything else. I had to stop before she wrecked and killed us all. No electronics involved.

      • And while I'll not even once mention my long promised flying car (lying bastards !) we could AT LEAST have K2000 type cars. ...

        I'll even give up the james bond options like jumping 20 feet and the rest (might keep the blond on a lease plan...and I won't keep the hasseldoff option 8p)

        But at least a car that is autodriven and fully connected...
        bonus points if it can fly ?

  • Dodge (Score:5, Informative)

    by captaindomon ( 870655 ) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @03:28PM (#31780712)
    This has been available for a year and a half or so on Dodge vehicles as an option: []
  • brilliant tracking (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Why put a GPS tracker on the car in a mandatory and inflammatory fashion, when you can simply embed it in a product that's too good for the masses to pass up?

  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @03:34PM (#31780806) Homepage Journal

    They would chase you down with their black van equipped 'bandwidth compliance team' then charge you for 3 full connections, retroactively, for 12 months.

    • by PlazMan ( 40335 )

      Maybe not since Verizon already allows up to four or five devices to share a 3G connection for free if you have one of the newer Palm phones.

      • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

        True, but if they have announced they are going after single customers that use the bandwidth they contracted for i cant imagine that they will be kind to sharing, even if they 'offically' support it.

    • After the other story I just read, yeah, they would be complaining that people were using all of the connections they offer, "to do who knows what". Damn Verizon.

  • Why?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Itninja ( 937614 ) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @03:38PM (#31780854) Homepage
    Anyone I've had in my car for the past several years, especially anyone who has an interest in being 'entertained' in a car, already had their own mobile internet and/or networkable device. Why would anyone want to splice an already-slow 3G connection between several people and/or devices?
  • While drivers will hopefully steer away

    Unlikely. I rarely commute by private transport, but when I do I am constantly blown away by the complacency that a large number regard the difficult and dangerous act of navigating a tonne and a bit of highly destructive, high kinetic energy, projectile of latent death that is the humble car.

    Eating bowls of cereal, doing your makeup, reading the newspaper, SMSing, talking on the phone, watching a DVD, fiddling with a number of gizmos : GPS, MP3 etc. And soon - updating your facebook profile.


    • I tried clicking on [like] a few times...
    • Driving is hardly difficult, especially in commuter or freeway traffic. In fact it is such a mind numbing task that people eat bowls of cereal, do makeup, read newspapers, SMS, talk on the phone, watch DVDs, fiddle with a number of gizmos, etc, just to pass the time. It's not complacency. It's boredom.
    • by BobMcD ( 601576 )

      I rarely commute by private transport, but when I do I am constantly blown away by the complacency that a large number regard the difficult and dangerous act of navigating a tonne and a bit of highly destructive, high kinetic energy, projectile of latent death that is the humble car.

      Successfully operating a vehicle just doesn't require one's full attention. It really shouldn't blow you away, unless you're just not familiar with how it operates. Certainly some things aren't compatible with making complex maneuvers, but all of the things you cited are perfectly fine if you're stopped at a stoplight or perhaps cruising at a constant speed on limited access with ample space ahead of you. The phrase is 'keep one eye on the road' and it is rooted in many successful applications.

      If the act

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by geekpowa ( 916089 )
        Your post demonstrates the complacency I take issue with.

        I never said driving requires one's full attention,and I agree that under some certain circumstances, distraction while behind the wheel is not a significant risk as it is at other times. But this is not the issue.

        Just because you have the basic motor functions down pat doesn't make driving a trivial task. It is a very intsensive activity. Ask any professional driver, an inner city truck driver

        People regularly underestimate the complexity of the ta

        • by BobMcD ( 601576 )

          How would you feel if the air traffic controllers were busy facebooking and texting away and not keeping their eyes on the task at hand?

          The same way I would feel about any other member of society. If they are capable of executing both tasks as desired, the actual means of how they do so is of very little concern. Unless I'm their manager, which as far as I know, I am not.

          Just because you have the basic motor functions down pat doesn't make driving a trivial task. It is a very intsensive activity. Ask any professional driver, an inner city truck driver

          Driving is far, far, far deeper than basic motor functions. Road awareness can be learned as well, you know. Clearly driving a truck, particularly since it probably isn't an automatic, in a high-density situation isn't a good time to be putting on your eyeliner. Howeve

          • As another poster pointed out - there is indeed potential problems with the survey result I quoted, so I'll take back that key point and accept that it is quite possibly flawed.

            In meantime, suggest you do some googling of your own:

            • "Distracted drivers"
            • "drivers on cell phones as bad as drunks"

            Sure there may be people out there who can successfully treat their dashboard as an entertainment console and safely manage and minimize the inherent distraction risk. And quite possibly you may be such a driver who i

        • People regularly underestimate the complexity of the task. I saw a survey once where respondents where asked to answer if they were above or below average drivers. Over 70% said above average. Given that mathematically only 50% can be above average, it demonstrates that a significant number of people are overconfident and complacent behind the wheel of a car.

          I generally agree with the point of your post, but this is a non sequitur. There are a number of possible reasons 70% of the people think they are better than average, and the most likely is that people are bad at statistics and in their mind equate "above average" with "good." Thus what they are saying is that they consider themselves good drivers. Being complacent and overconfident is something completely different.

  • This would work great with the UK's plan for a new Digital Economy []. On no, wait - it won't. Can't have open wi-fi any more. Can't have any sort of Internet connection where anyone using it cannot be tracked down and punished for allegedly infringing copyright.

    Of course, according to Stephen Timms [], Minister "for Digital Britain", if someone was worried about wireless connections being used by other people, he "could introduce a password so that somebody driving up outside his house would not be able to use h

  • by maxrate ( 886773 ) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @03:57PM (#31781088)
    I've been waiting for the day where I can finally congest a road and a 3G network simultaneously!
  • by British ( 51765 ) <> on Thursday April 08, 2010 @04:20PM (#31781330) Homepage Journal

    Will people be moving their houses around parking lots to scan for open Wifi spots?

  • Nokia N900 with Joikuspot []. With true multitasking, you can run it in the background while also running the turn-by-turn navigation [] on the main screen. Just to annoy the iPhone addicts, run the media player and pipe it thru your FM radio with the built-in FM transmitter.

    It'll even gracefully handle a call while doing all that, properly muting the music and gracefully interjecting the voice commands from the GPS.

    I've had it do all that once, just to show it could be done. Be sure to have the phone plugged

  • Its called a 4G WiMax connection and a battery powered router. Sure it only works in the chicagoland area, but I don't really leave the chicagoland area, so its just fine for me. 10megs down 1 meg up anywhere I want. The ping isn't the greatest, but its still good enough to play Quake 3.
  • Well, isn't this what you use Connectify for? No need for extra hardware and maybe even an extra subscription for the dongle.
  • Other than the bandwidth cap, this sounds like a good idea.
  • by dr2chase ( 653338 ) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @04:43PM (#31781616) Homepage
    Because it's pretty clear that the humans aren't paying attention to the road anymore.
  • by kyhwana ( 18093 ) <> on Thursday April 08, 2010 @05:05PM (#31781872) Homepage

    They're a bit late.. Tugrik did this what, almost 10 years ago? []

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mweather ( 1089505 )
      And Autonet has had a commercial product on the market for at least two years. Plus this had been an option on Chryslers since last year.
  • Not new (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nerdposeur ( 910128 ) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @05:54PM (#31782390) Journal

    I work in the cellular industry, and this isn't new, other than being kinda small like the MiFi. If you wanted WiFi with a cellular backhaul in your car, you could have gotten that from Linksys, Cradlepoint, or JBM (now Sixnet) and others anytime in the last few years that I've been in this industry, probably much longer. If you were content to get an Ethernet connection and add your own WiFi hotspot, the list expands to Airlink, Bluetree, Digi, etc. And that's just off the top of my head.

    Of course, geeks will always find a way. A friend of mine in high school created a dash-controllable MP3 stereo system for his car in 1999. He had an entire PC running Linux in the trunk and the display was re-purposed from a home security system. But that's not exactly a consumer-friendly setup.

  • If everyone had good cheap connectivity in their cars, it would spell the end of broadcast radio as we know it. I have mixed feelings about that, but I for one would love to be able to pick up on-line radio stations while driving long distances. Or stream audio books from my own server, or even, heaven forbid, some kind of audio book rental service. Heck why do you need an ipod when you can listen to streaming music on-demand anywhere? Of course the RIAA is likely to jump on this idea and push the entir

  • If it works like the GPS/radio in my car, driver distraction will be a moot point, because it'll decline to function unless the parking brake is on. :-)

    ...and there will be a work-around on youtube in less than 24 hours...

  • Of course I'd just end up duct-taping a GSM dongle/phone to a wifi router, but...

    The fact remains, they charge too much for data in north america, i can't justify paying for service for it, but the hardware isn't a problem.

  • As Meehawl has pointed out, Sprint has been doing this for years. What he didn't mention is that Sprint has offered the MyFi 5-user mobile hotspot (3G) for years, and has just released the Overdrive (4g) as well. At $99, it's sort of a no-brainer - that's what most of the single-user mobile broadband cards cost. My Sierra Wireless 3G card is getting a little long in the tooth, and this seems like a great replacement. Of course, it's not as small and easily portable as one of the mobile hotspots, but I'l
  • by Max Threshold ( 540114 ) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @09:28PM (#31784694)

    Uploading audio to your car while you're sitting at your desk.

  • Joikuspot [], works for nearly any phone that users can install apps on.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle