Dell gets serious about mobile

Dell says it plans to offer laptops users a "totally integrated mobile solution", letting them access HSDPA, 3G and GPRS networks

Laptops with fully integrated mobile phone connectivity will soon take off in the UK, a senior Dell executive said on Wednesday.

According to Eric Greffier, director of client marketing for Dell in Europe, Dell has ambitious plans for mobile phone-enabled laptops. "The difference is that these will be fully integrated within the laptop and they will support all the standards for mobile communications," he told ZDNet UK.

Until now, while laptops with Wi-Fi support have been readily available, mobile phone connections have generally been supplied on a separate card supplied by a mobile operator. On Tuesday, Dell announced that it had signed a deal with Vodafone to supply a high-speed mobile service on its laptops, using HSDPA .

As well as supporting HSDPA, which is also known as Super 3G, Dell's new laptops will also be compatible with UMTS — standard 3G in the UK — and GPRS.

"Embedded is the key," Greffier said. "We will have the communications embedded below the keyboard. It will be fully integrated." Dell will supply a complete service with the system, said Greffier, "up to the point when the customer uses the mobile carrier". He stressed that it won't be like buying a separate card, but that it will be "a complete Dell solution" sold and supported by Dell.

Dell said on Tuesday it plans to launch the new laptops by the end of June but Greffier hopes the laptops could be out before then. "We had a lot of hard work to do just to make this happen," he said, "and there is a lot of hard work still to do". Dell had already "learned a lot" from its work supplying mobile technology through Verizon and Cingular wireless in the US, but as a full integrated wireless service the new solution would "be very different", Greffier explained.

It's not clear at this stage whether Dell plans to offer customers wireless access through roaming deals with operators, or whether users will need to set up their own mobile subscriptions. Greffier would not comment on the likely cost of the new service, but said he does not believe it will be an issue.

"Today, you can use Wi-Fi for an hour for £5. An hour is nothing, but according to analysts like Gartner truly mobile service can improve productivity in a company by 15 percent."

Greffier claimed that this mobile service is at the heart of Dell's plans. "We are leaders in innovation and it was important for us to be first with this. We believe true mobility is what is wanted and the way people will work in the future."