SAN FRANCISO An initiative led by the GSM Association (GSMA) trade group has united 16 IT and wireless service providersincluding Microsoft , Dell, Toshiba, Qualcomm and T-Mobileto drive the adoption of notebook computers with mobile broadband capability.
Under phase one of the initiative, mobile operators, PC manufacturers and chipset providers are uniting to pre-install mobile broadband into a range of notebook PCs in 91 countries.
GSMA has created a mobile broadband logo to support the initiative and help build awareness of the technology. Participating companies plan to spend more than $1 billion over the next year promoting mobile broadband, according to the organization.
Beau Beck, senior director of business development for Qualcomm's Connected and Wireless Modules group, said the initiative was created partially to help alleviate confusion about mobile broadband and to help distinguish it from other wireless technologies like Wi-Fi and WiMax in the minds of consumers and IT managers. Research by Qualcomm as well as market research firms has identified this confusion as one barrier to mobile broadband adoption, he said.
"Hopefully mobile broadband will start to pervade the consciousness and we can use that momentum going forward," Beck said.
GSMA defines mobile broadband as a high-speed wireless Internet connection operating at more than 1Mbit/second and available wherever cellular coverage exists. Only devices that use GSM technologies, including HSPA and LTE, will carry the mobile broadband logo.
Integrating Mobile Broadband into notebook PCs is the first step in a wider strategy to deliver wireless Internet access to a range of previously unconnected devicesfrom cameras and MP3 players to refrigerators, cars and set-top boxes, according to GSMA. Only devices that offer a "truly un-tethered" mobile broadband experience will qualify to carry the mobile broadband logo (left), GSMA said.
Other companies participating in the initiative include 3 Group, Asus, ECS, Ericsson, Gemalto, Lenovo, Orange, Qualcomm, Telefnica Europe, Telecom Italia, TeliaSonera and Vodafone .
"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.' A mobile broadband solution, informed by close collaboration between PC makers, chipset vendors and mobile operators, should focus on appropriate optimization of the services and superior performance on the device, and consequently, a better user experience," said Shiv Bakhshi, IDC director of mobility research.
According to market research firm Wireless Intelligence, more than 55 million people now subscribe to mobile broadband services in 91 countries . That number is projected to increase by more than four million per month by the end of 2008, with roughly 1 billion mobile broadband subscribers expected by 2012.