Karma rides in style, putting mobile broadband in NYC black cars

Anyone stepping into one of car service GroundLink’s newest Lincoln Town Cars at New York City’s airport might notice a new amenity: broadband connectivity. GroundLink has started installing Karma’s mobile hotspots in select NYC black cars, offering customers the chance to surf the internet while tooling around town.

For those of you unfamiliar with Karma, it’s one of the new breed of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) trying to rethink the way we connect to the cellular data network. While Karma customers can connect to the WiMAX network (supplied by network partner Sprint(s s)) with their own Karma hotspots, they don’t necessarily have to. They can link through Wi-Fi to any other customer’s modem as well as the increasing number of strategic hotspots Karma is seeding throughout NYC. It’s already started connecting food trucks and outdoor markets. Now with the GroundLink deal Karma is moving into livery services.

Karma charges $14 per gigabyte when you connect to its network, though first-time customers logging in from any hotspot get 100 MB free. Unlike other wireless ISPs, though, Karma isn’t charging you per session. Once you buy a gigabyte you keep until you consume it, whether you access it through a neutral location such as a GroundLink car, another Karma user’s modem or your own hotspot. If you want to hear more about Karma’s shared bandwidth business model, be sure to check out Karma co-founder and CEO Steven van Wel’s talk at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference in October.