Mobile-router

The New York Times has an interesting story about a new product category: portable Wi-Fi hot-spots.

Whenever you wanted Internet access, [...] you'd [use] a little box. Plug it into a power outlet
— or even your car's cigarette lighter — and boom, you and everyone
within 200 feet could get onto the Internet at high speed, without
wires.

Actually, such boxes exist. They come from companies
like Kyocera, Junxion [pictured at right] and Top Global, and they're every bit as awesome
as they sound. (Unfortunately, the category is so new that it has no
agreed-upon name. "Portable hot spot" is descriptive but unwieldy.
"Cellular gateway" is a bit cryptic. Kyocera's term, "mobile router,"
may be as good as any.)

To work, you buy a wireless data card from your cellular carrier that provides the actual Internet connection. At 2.5G and 3G speeds, these networks offer plenty of performance for home-located remote monitoring applications. Carriers currently charge $60 to $80 for wireless data cards, and the mobile routers themselves run from $200 to $600 each. Here's basically how they work:

To use a mobile router, you insert your cellular laptop card (which
must first be activated in a Windows laptop). Then you connect the
router to your computer using an Ethernet cable (included). You type
the box's numeric address into your Web browser, and presto: you're
viewing its configuration page. Here's where you indicate which brand
of PC card you have (Novatel, Sierra Wireless
or whatever), turn on password protection, and fiddle with pages and
pages of network and security settings, if you're into that sort of
thing.

The Junxion box even lets you put up your own splash screen that users could see when they connect to the access point (AP). Way cool.