Sixteen global IT and mobile companies have joined an initiative by the GSM Association (GSMA), the global trade body for airtime providers, to pre-install mobile broadband on a range of notebook PCs that will connect straight out of the box.
To support the initiative, the GSMA has established a mobile broadband ‘service mark’ to help consumers identify ‘ready to run’ devices.
The service mark, pictured, will be backed by a global media spend of more than £500,000 in the next year.
Participants include network operators Orange, Vodafone, 3, T-Mobile, O2 parent Telefónica, Telecom Italia and TeliaSonera. Hardware manufacturers Asus, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft, Toshiba, ECS, Ericsson, Gemalto and Qualcomm have also joined.
The integration of mobile broadband into notebook PCs is the GSMA’s first step in a wider strategy to deliver wireless internet access and management to a whole range of previously unconnected devices – from cameras and MP3 players to refrigerators, cars and set-top boxes.
But it said only devices that offer a quality mobile broadband experience will qualify to carry the new mark.
GSMA chief managing officer Michael O’Hara said: “Sixteen of the world’s largest technology companies have committed to change the way people get online. This is manifested in a service mark we expect to see on several hundred thousand notebooks in the shops by the holiday season.
“The mobile broadband badge will assure consumers the devices they buy will always connect – wherever mobile broadband is available – and that they can expect a high standard of simplicity and mobility.”
But some industry watchers questioned whether the move is necessary and if embedded laptops will succeed.
Ovum senior analyst Steven Hartley said: “Migration to embedded laptops won’t occur overnight. The replacement cycle of a laptop is longer than mobile, slowing uptake. Embedded laptops are also more expensive and less flexible than a USB modem.
“An operator involved in the initiative told us it believed two thirds of mobile broadband access will still be via modem in two years time, leaving 30 per cent for laptops; a major increase, but still a minority.”