However, for customers that use Sprint's PCS Connection Card hardware for cellular data, Sprint will provide a single piece of software for managing connections to both services. Called PCS Connection Manager with Wi-Fi, it will show current availability of both kinds of services and a button to sign on to each.
Providing automatic handoffs between Sprint's cellular data network and the Wi-Fi hot spots will be a key step in making the Wi-Fi service more attractive to traveling professionals, said Roberta Wiggins, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston.
"They don't want to have to think about, should I use this technology or that technology?" she said.
Sprint's service is aimed squarely at business users, in contrast to T-Mobile USA Inc.'s hot spot service, which includes networks in coffee shops and bookstores and seems designed for consumers as well as mobile professionals, Wiggins said.
Any user with Wi-Fi hardware will be able to sign up for the Wi-Fi service alone by using a credit card. Software for managing Wi-Fi connections alone will be available free from Sprint's Web site, from a Sprint store or through select Sprint business channels.