Mobile broadband: it's not what you use that matters, just do it

Quite amusing to read the recent statement by Mobile broadband comparison site Top 10 Broadband that demand for 3G-embedded laptops and netbooks has been overestimated.  


You’d think in these credit crunched times that there were much more pressing things to worry about but no. What we have is a good old fashioned scrap between analysts.


Top 10 Broadband takes umbrage at a Disruptive Analysis  survey  reporting that projections for demand had been hyped up by PC manufacturers and that mass adoption of laptops with built-in broadband was years away. Disruptive Analysis forecasts that in three years time the proportion of mobile broadband subscribers using built-in wireless would be just 30%, compared with 58% who will be using a dongle/external USB modem to get online.


For its part, Top 10 Broadband cites data showing that in November 2008, deals from Vodafone and Orange which include laptops with embedded 3G broadband outstripped those which offer free laptops with external USB modems or dongles by a ratio of almost 3:2. It adds that such deals are now the third and fifth biggest selling mobile broadband offers on the site.


Yet the two may be missing  the bigger picture

2008 has been the year when mobile broadband has became mainstream; and by that we mean true mobile broadband with AFFORDABLE devices; widespread, reliable and high-speed services and true choice in what access technology to use. Or device.


As we said a few days ago, there are some excellent deals on offer right now for mobile broadband solutions, either embedded or USB-modem based. The key issue will be just how long you will want to keep the devices you use, especially netbook computers.


Virtually all of the deals on offer are based on two-year contracts. Let’s face it two years is a very long time in terms of both IT and telecoms innovations and it 3.6 Mbps seems high-speed now, at the end of 2010 it will seem very old hat. SO will the spec of device that you run the system on. Yet don’t forget that the pace of change in telecoms is typically faster than that of IT; IT and telecoms buying cycles are very different. We all upgrade our phone every 18 months or so but how often do we upgrade or PC?  


It could well be thecae that at the end of two years you may well have a (just about)  still rather useable laptop/PC/netbook but with a telecoms package that will seem at least 6 months out of date.


The option then will be to simply install another USB modem with the upgraded speed or  to have to replace everything. But who’s to say that the new embedded deals won’t be as competitive?  But also, even though a USB-based solution will work on any mobiel device, operators’ embedded packages may not match the in-house IT procurement strategy. If you strike lucky all well and good but otherwise the deal may involve a device that the business can’t or won’t support. 


But these are side issues. The real issue regarding what mobile broadband solution to choose is this: just choose one. The costliest option for your business is to not equip employees with technology that makes them more flexible and adaptable to the ever changing and more demanding business environment.