Quite a few Windows Mobile users have been scoffing at the Verizon Wireless Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus with the hotspot capable Mobile Hotspot app, which enables the Palm models to act like a mobile hotspot allowing you to share your VZW mobile broadband connection and tether your laptop to the internet. As Windows Mobile users, you probably have heard of the HTC Internet Sharing app, an HTC-made free app for HTC Windows Mobile devices, that offers the same functionality. Additionally, there’s also a paid app called WMWiFiRouter that does the trick as well. However, where the webOS Mobile Hotspot app shines is that it creates a true hotspot network whereas the HTC Internet Sharing app and the WMWiFiRouter program create only an ad-hoc connection. For most consumers, it would be just as easy to hop onto a true “WiFi network” that is created by the Pre or the ad-hoc network or connection created by the latter two programs, but enterprise customers who are stuck on corporate laptops with strict network security may not be able to use the Windows Mobile solutions.
Palm Mobile Hotspot App
As an example, a friend of mine works for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California and was given a company laptop with strict security policies for joining networks. As a result of her IT department’s settings on her Windows system, she is not able to connect to ad-hoc networks and her connections are limited to only true WiFi networks. As such, she could potentially hop onto the mobile hotspot network created by the Palm Mobile Hotspot app, but not the ad-hoc networks created by the Windows Mobile solutions.
The picture at the top of the post shows the WiFi networks as scanned on my work Mac. The webOS network created by the Palm Pre Plus is listed at the top where all the other true networks are shown; on the bottom, the ad-hoc connection labelled “HTC-WiFi-Sharing” is listed under “Devices”–that program was ran on a Tilt2.
HTC WiFi shows as an ad-hoc connection
Because it is listed under “Device” and is an ad-hoc connection, more secure corporate computing products–like my Kaiser Permanente friend’s laptop–would not be able to connect and those devices wouldn’t be able to share the mobile broadband connection.
The other difference between the solutions is pricing. The HTC Internet Sharing and Palm Mobile Hotspot apps are free; WMWiFiRouter costs $30. However, the HTC Internet Sharing and WMWiFiRouter should work without a costly tethering plan on most carriers, provided you stay within a reasonable data transfer limit per month. Those two apps do not require any special provisioning. At this time, Verizon Wireless is stating that the Palm Mobile Hotspot app, a free download, will require a $40 monthly tethering plan on top of a voice and smartphone data package. The tethering option will give you 5 GB of tethered data while the smartphone data plan will give you unlimited data on your Palm Pre Plus or Palm Pixi Plus with Verizon. It’s unclear whether the app and tethering require special provisioning on Verizon’s end or if users can just use the app without provisioning, though the latter may violate your terms of service with Verizon.
Though the combined smartphone ($30) and tethering ($40) plan on Verizon may seem expensive, it is quite reasonable considering other solutions–a USB modem data plan alone costs $60, and that doesn’t include a smartphone with data options and you can’t share your USB modem’s connection with up to five other devices.
The way that Palm and Verizon Wireless implemented internet sharing with the Palm Mobile Hotspot app will make it a more corporate-friendly tethering solution, much like the MiFi. For the average consumer, all the above solutions will work fine.