updated 03:35 pm EDT, Tue May 19, 2009
Atheros Wi-Fi Hotspot Chip
Atheros today unveiled a new cellphone chipset that could let cellphones host Internet connections as easily as with a typical wireless router. The AR6002 can run its Wi-Fi as a hotspot and can share its connection without the manually configured, ad hoc tethering over Bluetooth or USB normally needed to make the link. It can potentially save battery life for the devices connecting to the phone as it lets them idle or go to sleep where tethering requires both to be constantly alert.
The first phone to launch with the technology is NEC's N-06A, a slider with a 3.2-inch, 854x480 touchscreen and which can share its HSPA-based 3G over its Wi-Fi or else use the latter to connect itself. It also touts an 8-megapixel camera with face detection, 1Seg TV tuning and a microSDHC slot to hold up to 16GB of content. It ships to Japan through NTT DoCoMo on May 22nd.
Although the N-06A has a custom operating system, Atheros is keen to note that the AR6002 already has drivers for Android and other Linux-based operating systems, Windows CE and Windows Mobile.