Army Smartphone Project Checks Out Mi-Fi Access Points

FORT BLISS, Texas -- When I reported last week that the Defense Information Systems Agency has its eyes on mini-wireless access points called Mi-Fi, I made a bet to myself that the Army's smartphone project, formally called Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications, already had started to test the gizmos.

Mike McCarthy, head of the Army smartphone project did not disappoint me when I visited his bunker-like office here today. He hauled out his Mi-Fi card, which combines short-range Wi-Fi circuitry and broadband cellular wireless connectivity in a thin gadget about the size of a postcard.

McCarthy, who says his job amounts to conducting market research into all kinds of wireless gadgets, said he has fielded about 40 Mi-Fi cards over the past 18 months to senior Army leaders and has tested them successfully everywhere, from the midst of nearby White Sands Missile Range to Washington hotel rooms.

Since some DC hotel rooms still charge $15 a day for Internet access, the M-Fi ends up as a real bargain, as the Army only pays $30 a month for a high speed cellular data plan, McCarthy said.

I'll have a full update on the Army smartphone project on our news pages tomorrow.

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