Avis will apparently offer a cell-to-Wi-Fi bridge to car renters: The Autonet Mobile bridge, which receives signals from a 3G cellular network and routes them to a Wi-Fi gateway, isn't unique. Kyocera, Linksys, and Junxion, among others, sell such devices; the former two firms aim at consumers and small businesses, while the latter looks to corporate and fleet deployments. But the deal with Avis would be unique. The bridge would be provided with an DC auto adapter for use in the car.
The New York Times reports that while the deal isn't yet announced, pricing would be $11 per day. The company will also sell its device separately to what it envisions as a mini-van or SUV crowd--parents and kids traveling together--for $400 with a $50 per month service fee. There's no mention of how much bandwidth is included with that fee, which is $10 less than comparable retail 3G offerings from Cingular, Sprint Nextel, and Verizon, which require a voice plan and a two-year commitment.
It's hard to pick the kind of road warrior that would pay $11 per day for the service but wouldn't otherwise already have a cellular data connection that they would use. Traveling groups might be more inclined because of the ease of sharing, but then they might already own some other cellular bridge. However, because it's essentially a Wi-Fi hotspot without any cellular configuration, it might appeal to users who otherwise would find a cell network's configuration daunting. And to those who lack a PC Card slot on their laptop.
While the article notes the legality of Wi-Fi'ing while traveling--"Avis would require rents to agree not to hold it liable for accidents resulting from irresponsible use"--it doesn't mention that the cell operators have a varying amount of interest in allowing bridged Internet connections. Cingular and Sprint Nextel resell some bridges themselves, and their resellers offer bridges, too. Verizon has stated that they don't support their use on their network at all.