Dell will offer its notebook customers the choice of wireless Lan or wireless wide area network (Wwan) technology after signing a deal with AT&T Wireless Services to let Dell customers connect to cellular data networks through an expansion card.
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Customers will be able to purchase a tri-band Sierra AirCard 750 Wireless cellular modem from Sierra Wireless alongside a Dell notebook for $299.99, and participate in several different AT&T Wireless plans. Those signing up for higher-cost rate plans before 30 September will receive rebates on the Sierra AirCard, reducing its price to $224.99 if a customer chooses AT&T's unlimited access plan for $99.99 a month, said Steven Macon, Dell wireless product marketing manager.
Dell provides a number of notebooks that can connect to Wlans on various 802.11 standards. But the deal with AT&T Wireless is the company's first with a Wwanprovider in the US, Macon said.
AT&T Wireless has a GSM/GPRS (Global System for Mobile Communications/General Packet Radio Services) network.
European notebook users have been able to purchase a Dell TrueMobile 5000 GSM/GPRS card for the past 10 months, in agreements with Vodafone Group and mm02, Macon said.
The two wireless technologies are seen as complementary, rather than competitive technologies by the cellular carriers and the Wi-Fi Alliance. Wlan connections are faster and more stable when inside a room or building, but have a limited range, whereas a data connection on a cellular network can be maintained while driving down the road or while sitting outdoors.
For its Axim handhelds, Dell will offer a Compact Flash card based on another major cellular standard, CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access), Macon said. The company is also investigating the prospect of offering a CDMA card for its notebooks.
Hewlett-Packard already sells the Sierra AirCard 750 for notebooks through its website in partnership with T-Mobile USA. HP offers the card for $359, with up to $60 in rebates depending on the customer's eligibility.
Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service