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Wed 1 Oct 2008 01:00 PM

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GSMA heads alliance to promote Mobile Broadband

GSMA-driven initiative will promote mobile broadband uptake with $1 billion marketing campaign

GSMA heads alliance to promote Mobile Broadband
The Mobile Broadband mark should be included on notebooks by the year end.

The GSMA has formed an alliance of sixteen hardware, software and services providers to promote Mobile Broadband as an alternative to wi-fi, which will be backed with a $1 billion media campaign.

The alliance will work on pre-installing mobile broadband modules into notebooks from participating vendors, and will also provide and promote a ‘Mobile Broadband’ stamp, similar to the Intel inside logo, for hardware that is broadband ready.

The aim of the initiative is to raise consumer awareness of the advantages of mobile broadband as being ‘available everywhere’, compared to wi-fi which is only accessible from ‘hot spots’.

At present, according to GSMA figures, there are over 55 million mobile broadband subscribers in 91 countries, with this number expected to increase by an additional 4 million subscribers per month by the end of the year.

Michael O’Hara, CMO of the GSMA explained: “Mobile Broadband is like a home or office broadband connection with one crucial difference: freedom. Freedom from hot spots, freedom from complexity and freedom from security concerns. Today, sixteen of the world’s largest technology companies have committed to change the way people get online forever.”

The Mobile Broadband badge is intended to show consumers that any device carrying it has the widest possible connectivity, and can connect to mobile broadband out-of-the-box, without the need for additional dongles or antennae.

The program will initially target notebook computers, with the first Mobile Broadband badged products expected by Christmas, although the branding is expected to be used on any mobile broadband ready products eventually.

“The Mobile Broadband badge will assure consumers that the devices they buy will always connect – wherever Mobile Broadband is available – and that they can expect a high standard of simplicity and mobility,” O’Hara said.

The sixteen member companies, many of which have existing business relationships for broadband equipment and services, are 3 Group, Asus, Dell, ECS, Ericsson, Gemalto, Lenovo, Microsoft, Orange, Qualcomm, Telefónica Europe, Telecom Italia, TeliaSonera, T-Mobile, Toshiba and Vodafone.

Analysts were divided on how useful the initiative would prove to be.

Shiv K. Bakhshi, Ph.D., director of mobility research for IDC said that the program was timely, to help drive uptake in developed and developing markets.

“While there will always be a place for wi-fi connectivity, the great merit of Mobile Broadband might be that it liberates the user from the spatial tyranny of the so-called ‘hotspot’. A Mobile Broadband solution, informed by close collaboration between PC makers, chipset vendors and mobile operators, should focus on appropriate optimization of the services and superior performance on the device, and consequently, a better user experience,” Bakhshi said.

Steven Hartley, senior analyst at Ovum did not see as much value in a scheme that did not include all major notebook vendors.

“It could be argued that any promotion is better than nothing, but it looks a lot like the initiative is designed as a defensive move against WiMAX branding,” he said. “Who will the service mark help? How will we know? For a sticker to drive user buying decisions it needs industry wide support. The GSMA will need to quickly get other laptop manufactures such as HP, Apple, Sony, Panasonic, NEC, and Fujitsu on board.”

Hartley also questioned the $1 billion spend on marketing, pointing out that mobile broadband uptake is already increasingly quite healthily, but that the biggest barrier to entry is the cost of embedded connectivity. To include HSPA connectivity on a device currently costs around $70, expected to drop to $40 next year.

“Could the money have been better spent? The GSMA could have coordinated subsidies to drive volumes and lowered embedding costs by $100 for ten million laptops,” Hartley said.

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MobileDataUK 11 years ago

I assume this means lots of new laptops will be coming with Mobile Broadband built-in. Neil.