The Next Generation

The Next Generation

Upcoming advances in 3G technology are promising power executives and mobile road warriors better access to email, the Internet and business applications anytime and anywhere at blistering speeds of 1.6Mbps.

The ability to integrate 3G connectivity into notebooks has also caught the eye of laptop manufacturers, who are now investigating the best ways to take the technology to market.

Gartner hardware analyst, Andy Woo, said 3G had matured from the card phase into the world of embedded components.

"We're moving from LAN embedded to WAN-enabled notebooks," he said. "The devices are becoming more integrated."

3G offers simultaneous voice and data services, high-speed Internet access and high quality video telephony. With built-in networking functionality, users can send and receive email, download attachments, surf the Internet and access corporate databases over mobile networks without having to buy data cards.

Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Hutchison all run 3G networks capable of transferring data at up to 384Kbps.

Lenovo claims to be the first out of the gates with 3G embedded laptops, recently striking a deal with Vodafone to deliver mobile broadband connectivity on selected ThinkPad T60 and X60 notebooks.

Roaming Connectivity

The integration of 3G broadband with existing Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity, when managed by Lenovo's Access Connections software, allowed roaming between wired and wireless networks, senior ThinkPad product manager, Frank Luburic, said.

"3G customers will be able to get high-speed mobile data networking without the need to use external mobile data cards," he said.

When Vodafone incorporates High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) into its network later this year, ThinkPad customers will be able to upgrade notebook firmware to take advantage of the new higher speed mobile broadband solution, which will boost current 3G download speeds by approximately four times to around 1.6Mbps.

However, Gartner's Woo said he was not convinced the technology would have a big following.

"Its primary role at the moment is on mobile phones rather than notebook," he said.

"There needs to be a compelling reason to purchase it. And while users may get greater coverage, connection is still a problem. Pricing is an issue as well," he said.

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