I was walking around NYU’s campus earlier this week and could not for the life of me find an open Wi-Fi hotspot. I am happy to see NYU has encryption on its mind, but I desperately wanted to log into WordPress on my Eee PC and let the world know that the term “netbook” is just a term and not a specific Intel product. I had my BlackBerry on me, but had forgotten my mobile broadband card at home. Finally, I settled for a public library computer! I suppose it’s situations like this that TapRoot is hoping to prevent. Today, the company annouced its WalkingHotSpot software, which can transform a Wi-Fi enabled smart phone into a hotspot. The solution, which will only be made available through carrier partnerships, will allow users with a Wi-Fi enabled phone to broadcast their 3G data connection to up to five devices. As TapRoot explains it, the phone will broadcast what looks like a Wi-Fi network, but it will really be a 3G cellular data connection. For example, TapRoot’s software would leverage the HTC Mogul’s EVDO Rev.A connection and distribute that signal via Wi-Fi. Your phone would be listed as an access point when searching for nearby Wi-Fi networks, and then you would use your laptop’s wireless client to connect. Seems pretty cool if carriers decide to offer this service. Of course, you can already use your cell phone as a mobile broadband modem by pairing it with your laptop via Bluetooth, but as TapRoot points out that such a connection is only good for one device. TapRoot says its software, which it hopes to license to carriers, is compatible Wi-Fi-enabled Symbian and Windows Mobile smart phones. Given that most wireless providers cap their “unlimited” 3G data plans at 5GB for a single user, we don’t have a ton of confidence that they would let their customers turn their smart phones into hot spots for multiple surfers at the same time. Stay tuned for our hands on with the software from CTIA.