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Friday, 16 May 2008 05:27

HSPA heaven and GPS goodness from Ericsson and Dell

The trend towards building HSPA modems directly into laptops goes into overdrive as Ericsson launches a new HSPA and GPS equipped notebook module, with Dell the latest major international customer, after Lenovo earlier this year. Who needs dongles and cards, when built-in is better?

With WiMAX modules still yet to appear in Intel notebooks, and massive WiMAX networks still yet to be implemented worldwide beyond around 100 smaller WiMAX networks and trials, HSPA – or 3.5G high speed packet access networks – is the high speed network of choice for most of the world’s mobile workers.

Of course, Wi-Fi is available in many locations, including homes and offices, but for true ‘almost anywhere’ connectivity, at high speed, a 3.5G wireless modem, with both HSDPA and HSUPA – for high speed downloads and uploads – is essential.

The way that most people achieve this today is with either a PCMCIA/ExpressCard plug-in modem, or by using a USB wireless modem. Both solutions work wonderfully, but they require something to be plugged in and then stick out in some way, they can be broken, or lost.

Having something built-in may limit future upgradeability, but with laptops often being replaced within 2-3 years anyway, it’s not so big an issue – and with “up to” 7.2Mbps download speeds (and real-world speeds of 500Kbps to 3Mbps and faster), speed isn’t the issue for most on-the-road work, the real issue is the price of access charged by your carrier.

Now, internal 3G and 3.5G modules have been available in laptops for some time now, they’re definitely not new. But Ericsson has upgraded their modules to full HSPA speeds – presumably up to 7.2Mbps class download and up to 1.9Mbps class uploads – and have added a GPS module as well.

So, just as the latest mobile phones are packing at least an HSDPA module and GPS, so will all the latest notebooks that choose to include the Ericsson solution... at last!

Ericsson says that Dell will start offering the module in selected laptops from Q2 2008, which basically means... now.

Ericsson says that HSPA is the “world’s most widely deployed mobile broadband technology, with more than 185 commercially deployed networks available around the world serving more than one billion subscribers.”

So, what else do Ericsson and Dell have to say about this development, and their future plans? Please read onto page 2.

Mats Norin, Vice President, Mobile Broadband Modules, Ericsson said that:  “Consumers are increasingly utilizing notebooks to access the high-capacity services that they have typically experienced only through a wired or WiFi connection. We are excited to work with Dell to give consumers and business users the freedom and flexibility to access internet in the way they want it, wherever they are.”

John Thode, Vice President Small Devices, Dell Consumer Group said that: “Dell’s model is uniquely capable of putting the technology and wireless service in customers' hands. Teaming with Ericsson to offer built-in HSPA in our laptops ensures Dell delivers on the basic assumption that one can access critical information anytime, anywhere, with the speed and rich content that we have all come to expect,"

Ericsson says its solution is “seamlessly integrated with and optimized to work within the notebook, the built-in mobile broadband module provides superior downloading and uploading performance and takes less power from the battery” – with lower power usage something of particular usefulness to notebook users.

Ericsson also says that it is leveraging its “in-house HSPA chipset technology and the company’s economies of scale and longstanding operator relationships” and can therefore “offer a very competitive mobile broadband module solution that will help further drive a mass market for mobile broadband”.

Ericsson quotes “market projections” which estimate around 200 million notebooks will ship annually by 2011, and that 50% of those will have an HSPA module – with Ericsson obviously hoping that as much of that 50% as possible features Ericsson’s technology.

Colin Goodwin, Strategic Marketing Manager – Networks, Ericsson Australia, had much to say about the announcement.

Says Goodwin: "Embedded HSPA modules enable always-available mobile broadband that is tightly integrated with the notebook. Not only is there no need to purchase and carry a separate card or dongle that can be lost or damaged, but embedded modules have better radio performance and lower power consumption than an external card."

"We see mobile broadband being integrated into notebooks and other devices in three waves: first in notebooks aimed at business users; second in notebooks aimed at consumers; and third in other consumer electronic devices such as GPS navigators, in-car entertainment systems, gaming devices and cameras."

"Ericsson has a long-term vision to bring mobile broadband to all notebooks and connected devices - consumer electronics is going mobile. We believe we are uniquely positioned to reshape the mobile broadband market and will leverage our worldwide leadership, extensive knowledge in radio design and our mobile platform technology." 

"I am already an avid user of HSPA for keeping in touch with the office when I'm on the road; the extra speed and convenience makes it much better than hotel LANs or WiFi access. I'm looking forward to when I can connect without having to fiddle with external cards or dongles”, concluded Goodwin.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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