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Karma adds private network option to its hotspots

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The company's first premium feature turns off its signature sharing

Karma

Karma is a company that’s built a business model around sharing internet access with others, even strangers, through its hotspot service. But today it’s announcing something that takes sharing out of the equation, a new feature that finally lets you use a private Wi-Fi network with Karma’s mobile hotspot.

If you’re not familiar with how Karma works, it’s helpful to back up a few steps. Karma sells a small, mobile hotspot device called the Go that customers subscribe to data service for. That data can used for anything - a smartphone, laptop, tablet, whatever - but what makes Karma unique is that the hotspot is not locked down with a network password. Anyone in your vicinity can connect to the hotspot and sign in to their Karma account to get online. The owner of the hotspot then receives credit for each person they "share" the hotspot with, either in the form of extra data that they can use later or a bill credit on their account.

Private networks turns the Karma Go into a much more traditional hotspot

The new feature arriving today turns the Karma hotspot into a more traditional Wi-Fi network with a customizable network ID and password. It prevents others from connecting to the device, but it also removes Karma’s "captive portal", a website used to login to certain Wi-Fi networks. (You’re probably most familiar with this if you’ve used Wi-Fi in a hotel room or airport - the captive portal is the website you are presented with before you’re allowed online.) That means that devices without a web browser, such as an Apple TV, printer, or others, can now connect to the Karma to get online.

Karma says that a lot of its customers have been asking for this private network feature, and it will work with both its pay-as-you-go and subscription data plans. Karma users will be able to switch between the private network and the standard Karma model as often as they’d like. The company is billing the private network as its first "premium feature", and as such, it carries a $15 per month charge on pay-as-you-go plans and $5 per month charge on subscription data plans. The feature will be discounted $5 for the first month that customers use them.

Karma says that it plans to offer more premium features in the future, including options that will help users have more control over their data usage. The new private network feature will be available through Karma’s mobile management app and desktop dashboard starting today.