Sunday, December 16, 2012

Share Karma's mobile hotspot with others, earn extra data

The developers of a new mobile broadband service called Karma wants users to spread good karma. Users who share their hotspot will get a bonus in terms of the amount of bandwidth they have available.

The service went live earlier this month; Karma Mobility calls its service a social hotspot. The device itself costs $79 and comes with 1GB of data. Here's where there's a big difference: that 1GB of data doesn't expire. It's not 1GB of data per month. It's 1GB of data to be used until it's gone.

Each additional GB of data costs $14, which is pretty reasonable. Someone who uses the hotspot service only when necessary could stretch the GB for months.

In addition, though, when someone other than the Karma owner connects to the device, the guest will be given 100MB to use for browsing the Web. The plus for the owner, though, is that he also gets 100MB credited to their Karma account.

Obviously, if an owner activates the Karma device in a busy coffee shop (not Starbucks, we would assume), airport (not an airport with free wi-fi, naturally) or some another public area, they could easily earn enough data credits to stretch their data limit endlessly.

The Karma mobile hotspot allows up to eight simultaneous connections. It can operate from six to eight hours on a full charge, and charges with a micro-USB cable, meaning that an owner could hook the device up to their laptop, which could be plugged in, and keep it charged up. Karma has a range of about 100 feet.

It uses Clearwire's network, which means that despite being called 4G, it's not the speediest. You'll recall that Sprint has dumped WiMax for LTE because of that fact. Users will average between 3 to 6 Mbps download speed with spikes into the 10 Mbps range. Upload speeds will be around 1.5 Mbps.

The negative for Facebook haters is that Karma require that a guest has a Facebook account in order to connect to the hotspot. The reason is that the development team tracks f who has connected to the hotspot by using Facebook, in order to reward data credits properly. An owner is notified by email when a new user connects to the device.

Privacy mavens might not be happy about some functionality. Not only can a Karma owner view the name and picture of the person connected to the hotspot on the Karma Web dashboard, guests can also view the Facebook profile picture and name of the Karma owner. Neither the owner nor guests will be able to view the history of any browsing done through the device.

Karma has its limits, aside from data limits. It only covers 80 cities thus far. If you want to know if your city is covered, you can go here.

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