The new Palm.net service will make dial-up client software freely available for even the oldest Palms. However, there are currently no details of content partners and access charges are likely to be limited to call costs, which are high for mobile devices.
But Bill Maggs, Palm's chief technology officer, stresses that this is an enabling technology, which is not about browsing the Web, but about giving access to information.
The launch of Palm.net is stage one of Palm's Europe 1, 2, 3 programme, which is being rolled out over the coming 18 months. Stages two and three will aim to make the Palm device more independent of the phone.
Although plans are still sketchy, GSM modules that clip to the Palm and give it standalone connectivity are expected to be available within 12 months. Their launch is likely to overlap with the roll-out of integrated Palm communicators, which will integrate GSM or GPRS features into the handheld. These devices will offer both data and voice connections.