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9/30/2008
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Mobile Broadband Group Forms To Counter Wi-Fi

Led by the GSM Association, the group plans to spend more than $1 billion promoting a Mobile Broadband service mark to signify the alternative to Wi-Fi and WiMax in a range of notebook PCs.

With a wave of Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones hitting the market and WiMax devices lurking around the corner, some major IT and mobile companies have banded together to create a category of "always-connected Mobile Broadband devices."

Led by the GSM Association, the 16-member group plans to spend more than $1 billion promoting a Mobile Broadband service mark to signify that the wireless technology is included in a range of notebook PCs. The GSMA said the new effort will deliver "a compelling alternative to Wi-Fi."

The Mobile Broadband effort is supported by Microsoft and by leading PC providers ASUS, Dell, Lenovo and Toshiba. Other members include 3Group, Ericsson, Gemalto, Orange, Qualcomm, T-Mobile, Telecom Italia, TeliaSonera, and Vodafone.

Conspicuous by their absence are Apple, which spearheaded the Wi-Fi smart phone thrust by including the technology with its iPhones, and Intel, which is leading the WiMax movement.

"Mobile Broadband is like a home or office broadband connection with one crucial difference: freedom," said GSMA's chief marketing officer, in a statement. "This commitment is manifested in a service mark that we expect to see on several hundred thousand notebooks in shops by the holiday season."

The GSMA said the Mobile Broadband service mark incorporates HSPA (High Speed Packet Access), HSPA Evolved and LTE (Long Term Evolution). The association added that its research shows that 57% of the demand for the wireless technologies will come from emerging Asia-Pacific countries. North America represents 15% and Western Europe 11%.

A GSMA survey found that 88% of consumers planning to purchase notebooks indicated that want Mobile Broadband built in to their notebooks.

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