IP Wireless, a manufacturer of wireless wide area network modems, announced this week a partnership with Possio AB, a Swedish maker of access points, to incorporate IP Wireless PCMCIA WAN cards inside the access point (AP).
Where wired connections such as DSL and cable are not available, the IP wireless cards become the backhaul for the WiFi network.
"Construction sites, movie sets, or accountants auditing at a corporate client can go to the site, set up the Possio AP, and have an instant network," said John Hambidge, senior director of marketing at IP Wireless in San Bruno, California.
For the majority of business users Wi-Fi is part of the high-tech toolset they travel with, while wide area network cards are not. Putting the wide area card in the AP will give many more mobile users access to their networks without having to seek out standard public Wi-Fi hot spots, said Hambidge.
The IP Wireless card can also be removed from the AP and used in individual notebooks.
The Possio access points are also Bluetooth enabled. Albeit slower than IEEE 802.11b, Bluetooth can still give users wireless access to their networks.
The technology will be sold through wireless carriers and requires users to have a service contract with the carrier. IP Wireless also plans to target the public transportation industry to give commuters access during rail, bus, and ferry service.
One analyst applauded the move, saying it will give more users access, but at the same time warned that some in the cellular industry may not promote the concept.
"The problem is the wide area network companies don't want WiFi to succeed, and some are starting aggressive anti-WiFi marketing campaigns," said David Hayden, a principal with MobileWeek in Los Gatos, California.
Nevertheless, the IP Wireless Mobile Broadband cards are compatible with 3G Wide CDMA cellular service and are available now. Wide CDMA service is currently available worldwide and in selected parts of the United States, including Jacksonville, Florida, and Maui, Hawaii.