RealTime IT News

Tech Titans Push Mobile Broadband Forward

A consortium of tech leaders announced yesterday its aim to drive mobile broadband capability into a wide range of PCs and other wireless devices, spurring adoption of connectivity based on the GSM mobile phone standard.

Mobile PC devices will be marketed with a "Mobile Broadband" badge that assures consumers a high connectivity standard, according to the GSM Association (GSMA), an industry group spearheading the effort.

The program is supported by 16 top IT and mobile vendors including Dell, Ericsson, Lenovo, Microsoft, Qualcomm, T-Mobile, Toshiba and Vodafone. Initial devices include laptops and notebooks but the program will expand to cameras, MP2 players and even refrigerators, according to GSMA.

The marketing campaign is also aimed at meeting mobile consumer expectations and fostering device sales.

A recent Pyramid Research study, commissioned by the GSMA and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), said reported that 88 percent of laptop shoppers considering a $500 to $1,000 notebook would prefer mobile broadband built-in.

The study also reported that 60 percent of consumers want to buy a voice and data package from an operator with a mobile broadband notebook.

According to Wireless Intelligence, a research group, there are more than 55 million mobile broadband subscribers in 91 countries, and that figure is predicted to grow by four million per month by the end of 2008.

IDC research called the GTSMA initiative timely as it leverages availability of high-bandwidth networks in both developed and developing economies in 91 countries.

While there will always be a place for Wi-Fi connectivity, the great merit of mobile broadband might be that it liberates the user from the spatial tyranny of the so-called "hotspot," said Shiv K. Bakhshi, director of mobility research for IDC.

The GSMA is a global trade group representing more than 750 GSM mobile operators across 218 countries. Its members represent more than 3 billion GSM and 3GSM connections.

Members said the initiative will make it easy for digital nomads to identify devices that allow them to surf the Web, chat with friends, keep updated on the latest news, share photos or connect with their social networks.

Lenovo has been already integrating mobile broadband capabilities into its ThinkPad line.

According to Toshiba, which said it has already been pushing mobile broadband features to product users, the effort will help consumers determine connectivity options supported by laptops.