Business gets most but not all the focus at MobileCon show

The fall event hosted by CTIA, the international trade group that advocates for all aspects of the wireless industry, has traditionally been a more enterprise-focused event. But at this year's edition, dubbed MobileCon, the crossover between work and play created by widespread smartphone adaptation in the workplace has meant a few highlights for consumers and business folk alike.

The majority of the panels so far at this week's trade show in San Diego have centered on the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement and the cloud—as well as the security issues raised by those two developments. On Tuesday morning, for example, a panel discussion billed as "BYOD: Friend or Foe?" brought together executives from Symantec, Samsung, IBM, and Bloomberg to answer the question of whether employee-owned mobile devices were helpful or harmful to business. The short answer: Both, with members of the panel debating best practices, constrained IT budgets, and enforcement levels that employees would realistically comply with.

But it wasn’t all business-centric speak at MobileCon, as many companies also used their time in the trade show spotlight to show off advancements that could benefit both businesses and mobile device-toting employees. Verizon touted the expansion of its LTE coverage, giving the carrier the largest LTE network in the world. On the device side, Novatel Wireless, a company known for its line of hotspots, USB modems, and wireless embedded modules, showed off its newest offering, a touchscreen mobile hotspot called the MiFi Liberate. (AT&T announced the MiFi Liberate late last month, but MobileCon provided a more extensive look at the device.)

MiFi Liberate from Novatel Wireless

A fairly nifty upgrade, the MiFi Liberate not only has a bright 2.8-inch touchscreen but also features 4G LTE connectivity, and 11 hours of battery life courtesy of a 2900mAh Li-Ion battery. It can also connect up to 10 devices at a time. The touchscreen displays a menu of options, in a familiar interface that resembles a smartphone's app list, that lets you control settings, check data usage, and manage devices all with a few taps. You can easily add devices and just as easily block them from accessing your network. And the Liberate keeps security in mind with VPN pass-through, Wi-Fi Protected Setup, NAT Firewall, and other security features.

The device also has an inserted 32GB microSD card which permits file sharing and media storage, which turns the Liberate into a portable media library as well. Global-ready, the Liberate can provide connectivity in more than 200 countries and will be available on AT&T in the coming weeks.

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