About a year ago I’ve written a blog post about how nice it would be if Nokia N-series phones with 3G and Wifi could be used as a Wifi access point. The post keeps getting a lot of hits via search engines and a lot of comments have been left until the comments section was closed automatically to reduce comment spam. Looks like I am not the only one thinking about such a feature. A year later a solution or rather workaround seems to have surfaced at least for some Windows Mobile devices. These days I am wondering if Google’s Android platform for mobile devices might be the choice for some people to really implement such a feature!?
So why on Android? The answer is Open Source! Windows Mobile, S60 and other mobile phone operating systems are closed source. Application developers can only use the Application Programming Interface (API) of the operating system which simply does not allow programmers to do such low layer things as reconfiguring the Wifi chip, setting up a system wide DHCP and DNS proxy and to interconnect the Wifi interface with the 3.5G interface. But with Android, things are different. The operating system is Linux so the source code and programing tools to modify the operating system are available. So as they say in the video below at the end, "start composing"!
Oh, by the way, there are already some open source mobile devices out there, the Nokia Internet Tablets (N770, N800, N810). Their operating system called Memo is also based on Linux and there is lots of activity in the filed. The latest version of the software even ships with an Xterm so deep diving without installing additional software is possible. There are even some tools ported from mainstream Linux to tweak the Wifi chip. Won’t help much on these devices for a Wifi/3.5G access point since the Internet tablets do not have a 3.5G Interface. Nevertheless it shows the possibilities.
Let’s see who gets there first, closed source or open source. Where do you place your bets?
3 thoughts on “Android 3G phone as a Wifi access point?”
my impression from Android is that it is NOT about open source, it is about opening application level interfaces, which is different thing. And Android specs doesn’t finger-point on Linux. Probably I have to read better the truth behind, but so far it seems as legal tool in Google’s hands in their fight for 700MHz piece of cake 😉
thanks for commenting! I am a little bit more optimistic, it seems all pretty much open source to me. The Linux Kernel is distributed under the GPL license and the Virtual Machine on top under Apache. The source including the adaptations for a Qualcom HSDPA chipset is available here:
In the discussion forum there are also some threads on how to modify kernel stuff:
So the interesting question will be how easy it will be in finished products to modify the Kernel of a product. This is where I see similarities with the Linksys WRT54. If there is a company that produces cool hardware and releases all kernel adaptations for the hardware then it should be pretty simple.
Cheers and happy new year,
I hope this is possible on S60 phones.
It would be particularly interesting to have FON type of model. I share my flat rate mobile data in my home country to other users and I can use their data plan outside of my home country. No need to wait Vivianne Reading to fix roaming charging craziness and would work all around the globe.
Just do it!
TITLE: Android 3G phone as a Wifi access point?
BLOG NAME: Go to Android
DATE: 12/31/2007 01:35:01 AM
Windows Mobile, S60 and other mobile phone operating systems are closed source. Application developers can only use the Application Programming Interface (API) of the operating system which simply does not allow programmers to do such low laye
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