Like the idea of tethering your computer to your cell phone for Internet access? Wish it was a bit simpler to do and that it supported more than one computer at a time? Atheros wants to make all of the above possible, with the introduction of some new technology that promises to turn cell phones into access points. The new technology would let a cellular phone come with the ability to serve as a wireless access point, allowing up to four people to go online using wireless devices like laptops or (oddly enough) other smartphones.

Not releasing specifics, a spokesperson for Atheros mentioned that a phone with such a feature would be released sometime this year. This is certainly a step up in cell phone functionality, and sounds like it has some promise. In particular, it could make traveling with your phone and using it as a way to get online easier, letting you leave the cell phone on a charger or away from you while still making use of its Internet connectivity on a laptop.

There are advantages of this scenario over current offerings. Most smartphones offer some form of tethering option, which allows a single computer to get online using a cellular data plan. And most providers offer a data card, also all offering the same, again with the one-machine limit. While certainly not as useful as a traditional Internet connection with a wireless router, it's a very handy tool - and one that might drive people more towards using cell service for Internet.