The Next Generation

The Next Generation

Unified Standards

"Users know what they can expect. There's still a lot to be defined with WiMax in terms of unified standards," he said.

While vendors are fine tuning the strategies and singing the 3G song, Gartner's Woo argued more telco players needed to become involved. Lenovo has already struck deals with Vodafone in terms of embedded 3G and with Telstra for external 3G cards in a bid to bring the technology to the business market. The others will have to follow suit, Woo said.

"For mainstream deployment, the telco has a role to play," he said. "The main reason for 3G is for content, and the PC is part of the extended platform. And while PCs are a different business model, the telco needs to subsidise the hardware costs."

Broadband bundling packages would also need to be offered by telcos as a way of driving uptake.

Market uptake would increase, Woo said, if telcos also started to subsidise the notebooks in the same way they did mobile phone handsets.

Vodafone's Singh said there was a new market opportunity for telco providers in concert with notebook vendors.

While the technology would initially appeal to the high end of the market, he perceived it would also attract SMB players.

"We see this as the next evolution of data connectivity," Vodafone's Singh said. "It addresses the emerging trend of connectivity."

The embedded aspect of the hardware meant better performance and fewer compatibility issues, he said.

Vodafone has a large and active IT channel. Its latest offering would present new opportunities for in terms of hardware margin and connection fees, he said.

Vodafone's data partners include Corporate Express, ComputerCorp, ASI Solutions, The Somerville Group, Harbour IT and WJ Moncrieff.

Once customers choose a data bundle, activate an account via a connection manager and meet the standard credit test requirements, mobile broadband would be available each time customers turned on their laptops in the same way they connected in the office or at home, Singh said.

HP, meanwhile, was also fine-tuning its 3G strategy, planning to roll out an embedded solution at the end of the year, business development manager, commercial notebooks, Jerel Chong, said.

"We are doing it later, rather than sooner, in order to offer a more future-proof solution, which will take advantage of next generation 3G and faster networks," he said.

"With 3G, we are heading towards that always connected model. And connectivity-wise, 3G is one of the better solutions out there."

HP is in talks with telcos, trying to gauge interest.

"It's a new area for us, so we're trying to sort out risks," Chong said.

"It's all exciting for the channel. They get a product at a higher margin, and will find the bundles solutions good for business."

HP's inaugural target market would be larger organisations with workers who need to be connected all the time.

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