Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Freeform Dynamics: Embedded HSDPA for notebooks

Freeform Dynamics writes an analysis of recent announcements about embedding HSDPA or bundling data cards for notebooks. Freeform writes that "in reality though, it is likely to be well into 2007 before we see anything other than relatively restricted HSDPA availability." The article states:

The obvious question therefore is why anyone would be interested in buying a notebook from Dell with embedded HSDPA as soon as the middle of this year. The answer is to future proof their investment. The modules installed by Dell will support UMTS and GPRS (2.5G) as well as HSDPA. They may therefore be used to connect via the commonly available cellular data standards today, while being ready to take advantage of HSDPA as coverage increases to useful levels, as it undoubtedly will during the lifetime of a new PC bought this year.
Will all the various wireless technologies be overkill? Freeform writes "Dell is very clear in its view that WiFi and cellular connectivity options are complementary, and we are inclined to agree with this. Regardless of increasing WiFi availability, coverage can never be as extensive as a cellular network - the technology simply wasn’t designed with this in mind. Connecting to public access WiFi networks is still also far from being a hassle free experience, especially if you don’t have a subscription and need to purchase access on a session by session basis. In practical terms, therefore, a significant number of notebook users will, indeed already do, find the cellular option very useful."

The article then looks at the convience factor and more importantly, cost. Freeform states, "Right now, we have different billing models for WiFi and cellular (minutes versus megabytes) and the limitations of WiFi offerings from cellular operators, which often restrict the types of hotspot to which the user may connect, means that early subscribers have usually ended up with two separate contracts or have still had to contend with ad hoc purchase of WiFi sessions. Many still also regard cellular access as being too expensive." The article concludes that:
If the cellular players do not get the cost model right, for example, then HSDPA usage will be limited, so it is really up to them how they choose to move forward. Assuming they pitch the cost at a level acceptable to the mainstream, however, once the cellular option is embedded in the same way as WiFi, there is no good reason not to use it. If the operators get it really right, then there is even a chance that we could be seeing cellular connectivity being fitted as standard into business notebooks in the same way as WiFi is today.