Sagem Orga has stuffed a WLAN modem onto a SIM card, potentially turning any cell phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The so-called SIMFi does exactly what you might think: Plug the card into a cell phone, and your nearby computer or other Web-enabled device will be able to access the Internet, after authenticating. Sagem Orga’s offering the technology through Spanish cellular provider Telefonica, and has high hopes that its product will become “the next killer application.”
I really hope wireless carriers in the United States pick up this technology, but I’m not holding my breath. They’re already paranoid about the amount of bandwidth smartphones consume, so it’s unlikely they’d start supporting a SIM card that makes wireless tethering so easy for so many consumers. Even if they did, I’d expect to see hefty fees attached to the service, in the same way that tethering can cost $30 per month on top of an existing data plan. It’s not clear whether Sagem Orga’s SIMFi will require an extra charge through Telefonica.
In any case, cell phone service in the United States — and especially smartphones — is more about buying a specific phone with the SIM card locked inside, rather than getting a phone first and a SIM card to match. And some carriers, such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint, have hooks in the mobile hotspot business with their Overdrive and and MiFi routers, and Verizon’s Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus, which act as mobile hotspots for an additional charge. A SIM card with Wi-Fi has the potential to wipe out those products, but I suspect it’ll be some time before they do.
Still, imagine the potential, especially when 4G networks are fully built. You’d have a blazing fast Internet connection emanating from your pocket.