Companies Unite for Mobile Broadband Push

16 technology and mobile companies have united behind a GSM Association (GSMA) initiative to create a new category of always-connected Mobile Broadband devices, delivering an alternative to wi-fi. The companies say this will give consumers the freedom to get online on the move, while enabling operators to address a US$50 billion (28 billion) opportunity in both mature and emerging markets, according to figures from Pyramid Research.
Participants in the initiative include 3 Group, Asus, Dell, ECS, Ericsson, Gemalto, Lenovo, Microsoft, Orange, Qualcomm, Telefnica Europe, Telecom Italia, TeliaSonera, T-Mobile, Toshiba and Vodafone
In the first phase of the initiative, mobile operators, PC manufacturers and chipset providers are uniting to pre-install Mobile Broadband into a range of notebook PCs that will be ready to switch on and surf straight out of the box in 91 countries across the world.
To support the initiative, the GSMA has created the Mobile Broadband service mark, a new global identifier which will help consumers easily identify the array of ready-to-run Mobile Broadband devices. The Mobile Broadband service mark will be backed by a global media spend of more than US$1 billion in the next year. 
Mobile Broadband is like a home or office broadband connection with one crucial difference: freedom, says GSMA Chief marketing Officer, Michael OHara. Freedom from hot spots, freedom from complexity and freedom from security concerns. Today, 16 of the worlds largest technology companies have committed to change the way people get online forever. 
Integrating Mobile Broadband into notebook PCs is the first step in a wider strategy to deliver wireless Internet access and management to a whole range of devices, from cameras and MP3 players to refrigerators, cars and set-top boxes. However, only devices that offer a truly un-tethered Mobile Broadband experience will qualify to carry the new service mark.
The GSMA notes that more than 55 million people currently subscribe to Mobile Broadband services in 91 countries, a number that the analyst Wireless Intelligence says will grow by four million per month by the end of 2008.
We have seen enormous uptake of Mobile Broadband and see this initiative as a further boost to its popularity, says Andrew Sangster, Director of PC Connectivity at Vodafone. Initiatives that unite the Mobile Broadband community under a common identifier can only be good for the customer. Providing a single, simple point of reference for Mobile Broadband will ensure that the appropriate buying decision is made every time.”