Mini mobile broadband laptops coming soon

The mobile industry is already in talks with hardware manufacturers about creating smaller, cheaper laptops which come with embedded high speed mobile broadband connectivity.

The mobile industry is already in talks with hardware manufacturers about creating smaller, cheaper laptops which come with embedded high speed mobile broadband connectivity.

Speaking in Sydney on Tuesday, chairman of mobile operator body GSM Association (GSMA), Rob Conway, said that discussions have already begun to bring devices to market with HSPA -- high speed 3G -- embedded modems included.

Unlike the embedded 3G laptops already available from the likes of Dell and Lenovo, the GSMA's plan will herald the development of more portable, lightweight notebooks, potentially with nine- or 12- inch screens -- intended to bridge the gap between mobiles and fully-fledged laptops.

"We're currently working on a consumer survey around the world -- not just here but in the developing world -- on specialised, smaller versions of notebooks that are HSPA ready," Conway said. A formal announcement on the devices is expected in November.

The devices are likely to debut at lower price points than traditional laptops but the GSMA is hoping the promise of constant connectivity will prove the devices' chief selling point -- "Price is clearly an element but even if price moves a bit it's not a concern [to consumers]," Conway said.

The Association is also working on embedding HSPA -- the umbrella for HSDPA and HSUPA -- into consumer electronics, including cameras to allow users to upload content to Web sites without the need to connect to a PC.

HSDPA -- 3G with a faster downlink -- is used by all four of Australia's mobile carriers. Telstra's Next G network can reach up to 14.4Mbps although all mobile and data cards compatible with HSDPA networks can only offer speeds of up to 3.6Mbps.

According to the GSMA, 15 percent of the world's HSDPA subscribers live in Australia.