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You heard it here last: Lenovo’s new Z Series integrates EVDO: It will be the first laptop to ship (looks like within two to four weeks) with EVDO built-in as opposed to a PC Card. Dell will have integrated EVDO and HSDPA next year, while HP plans to do something but they’re not giving specifics yet.
The first HSDPA cards are hitting the market: The latest in 3G UMTS service for GSM-evolving networks is hitting the market before such networks are deployed. An analyst quoted in this article says Option is four to six months ahead of competitors, which gives it the cat-bird’s seat in trials, tests, and bundled offerings.
This article tries to make Nokia out to be savvy, but they sound a bit flighty: Nokia is focused its laser beam—everywhere. On 3G cellular, on Wi-Fi, and mobile WiMax. The company is right to do so, but it’s a little scattershot in this description of the growing data side of their handset and communicator business. Nokia has committed to including Wi-Fi on all new higher-end devices, but the article notes that some devices have “eight radios and antennas”—more likely bands and chips—to support GSM and 3G worldwide along with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
InfoWorld looks at how businesses are already adopting 3G flavors to solve problems for roaming employees: The various kinds of 3G here or on the way will bring higher speeds, as will mobile WiMax when it’s available in 2007 or later. But will mobile WiMax’s cost of deployment overwhelm its advantages? This article argues that ubiquity with mobile WiMax is too high a price to compete with cellular.
Dell’s partnership with Verizon Wireless must not have been exclusive: The computermaker announced earlier this week that some high-end laptops next year would have the option of an internal Verizon Wireless EVDO card, reducing cost, integration, and support. Today, the company says they will also build in Cingular’s upcoming HSPDA (High-Speed Packet Download Access) next year, which will offer somewhat faster download speeds than EVDO and enormously higher upload speeds.
EVDO offers a consistent 50 to 100 Kbps upstream and 200 to 400 Kbps downstream with higher downstream peak rates of 1 Mbps or more. HSDPA should provide 400 to 700 Kbps average speeds on the downstream side with peak rates of 2 Mbps; upstream should be in the 100 to 200 Kbps range, although exact numbers aren’t being provided.
Until HSDPA is available, Dell is offering Cingular’s GC83 EDGE PC Card for $199 with a $150 rebate from Cingular once a service plan is added. Cingular will offer unlimited EDGE for $59.99 per month to Cingular voice customers.
Integrating a cellular data card into a laptop shifts the software driver, update, and support costs to the laptop maker, which hopes it can garner a premium for the package and will almost certainly derive ongoing revenue from customers that sign up for Verizon or Cingular’s data packages. It’s a win for customers, too, in that an integrated card should work better (better antenna design, less fuss in getting it to work) and the actual add-on cost should be lower because of the form factor and integration.
The bloom has fallen off Dell’s rose recently in customer support, however, where it used to score just below Apple Computer in independent consumer tests. Dell is still No. 2, but much further below Apple. The company also recently shut down its user forums which allowed other customers to provide tech support or users to self-help through archives.
Boingo and Birdstep partner for a Wi-Fi/cell application toolkit: Both firms benefit from the partnership, which will allow Boingo to more easily add the range of cellular data standards supports into its existing client, and thus allow resale to its platform partners and direct customers. Likewise, Birdstep can bundle Boingo’s Wi-Fi platform and aggregated hotspots to operators who currently use their software to manage cell data connections.
Starting next year, Dell will include an EVDO card as an internal mini-PCI component in high-end laptops: The Wall Street Journal says Verizon Wireless is negotiating with other makers, including Lenovo, which purchased IBM’s laptop line.
This integration of EVDO into the computer’s innards is reminiscent of the 2003 Centrino launch. At the time, an Intel executive told me in an interview that the company would fold in cellular data standards into future releases of Centrino technology. Instead, Intel seems focused on mobile WiMax, which won’t be a reality until 2007 or later, rather than the here and now of 3G cellular.
Ninety percent of Dell’s laptops have Wi-Fi built in when sold and about 55 million laptops with Wi-Fi should ship this year.
Verizon and Vodafone produce worldwide data roaming at fixed rates: Vodafone owns a minority of Verizon Wireless, and VZW and Vodafone use incompatible data standards. Thus under this $129 per month global roaming package for voice subscribers, a customer gets two cards: an EVDO card for the US and a GSM (UMTS?) card for the rest of the world that Vodafone covers.
The monthly fee covers unlimited North American usage, 100 MB per month in Tier 1 countries (most of Europe), and three cents a kilobyte ($30 per MB!) in Australia, Brazil, Russia, and China. The article mistakenly says that Verizon charges $60 per month for unlimited US EVDO use: that rate is only available to voice subscribers who commit to a one-year service plan. Otherwise, it’s $80 per month.
The division is safe: The company will seek more spectrum via auctions next year.
It’s small comfort, but T-Mobile has restored its wireless access in downtown New Orleans: This includes voice, GSM, and GPRS, and they’ve enabled free and open roaming for GSM and GPRS data for users of all networks—most equipment will work.
The company will offer the UMTS-skipping high-speed cell data in March in four countries: Cingular has decided to skip UMTS in the states in favor of HSDPA, and Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile International has opted for the same path. UMTS costs too much without delivering enough benefits during its short window of being the highest speed GSM migration path broadband offering.
T-Mobile has EDGE coverage across 90 percent of its US network: EDGE is available at GPRS rates, which is $20 per month for unlimited use for existing voice subscribers; $30/month for others.
Sprint PCS matches Verizon’s reduced EVDO pricing: Verizon Wireless dropped its unlimited monthly EVDO price from $80 to $60—for a two-year commitment and only for cell voice subscribers. Sprint PCS is matching the deal term for term (voice subscribers, two-year term), and throwing in a free EVDO PC Card. Verizon’s site currently shows them charging $99 for an EVDO PC Card, even with the two-year plan.