Dell and Ericsson ink mobile-broadband deal

As Dell has already said it will use Qualcomm's Gobi mobile- broadband chipset, the PC maker may be planning to use Ericsson modules in low-cost subnotebooks
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Dell is to start incorporating Ericsson's mobile-broadband modules into some of its laptops.

The deal, announced on Tuesday, will see Ericsson's HSPA (high-speed packet access) modules used in Dell machines, as of this quarter. However, just a month and a half ago Dell said it would be using Qualcomm's Gobi chipset for its embedded mobile broadband. This raises the possibility that Dell will be using different modules for different classes of device, but the company has refused to comment on the matter.

Gobi is particularly notable because it allows users to roam between HSPA networks and EV-DO (evolution-data optimised) networks, which are used instead of HSPA in North America and parts of Australasia. At the start of April, Qualcomm announced deals with manufacturers, including Dell, HP and Lenovo, to see Gobi embedded in their laptops.

Ericsson's mobile-broadband modules use Ericsson's own chipset, not Gobi. Like Gobi, the Ericsson chipset incorporates GPS connectivity, as well as mobile-broadband technology, but it is not compatible with EV-DO.

In Tuesday's announcement, Dell's vice president of small devices, John Thode, said: "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."

"Consumers are increasingly utilising notebooks to access the high-capacity services that they have typically experienced only through a wired or Wi-Fi connection," said Mats Norin, vice president of mobile-broadband modules for Ericsson. "We are excited to work with Dell to give consumers and business users the freedom and flexibility to access the internet in the way they want it, wherever they are."

A spokesperson for Qualcomm told ZDNet.co.uk on Thursday that the broad relationship that Dell announced in April regarding Gobi remained "unchanged" by the Ericsson announcement. "The unique benefits of Gobi, which bring together global support for EV-DO and HSPA, plus GPS, will be made available in Dell notebooks around the world," said the spokesperson.

Dell has refused to comment on the seeming disparity between the two announcements. However, the fact that Dell's comment in the Ericsson announcement came from its small devices unit suggests the Ericsson modules may be used in Dell's anticipated low-cost subnotebooks, with the Gobi-based modules going into more highly specified laptops.

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