According to a report from Gartner, embedded 3G radios in laptops might finally make sense for enterprises. The research consultancy had previously warned enterprises against embedded 3G radios in laptops saying the costs were difficult to justify. But now, based on new pricing plans and evolving technologies, Gartner said it could encourage a change in strategy.
“Our standing recommendation against embedding wireless WAN (WWAN) cards in notebooks—except for applications with a clear return-on-investment justification—has been based on lack of global coverage, high costs and poor asset protection,” said Ken Dulaney, vice president and analyst at Gartner, in a statement. “However, new technologies and pricing due by the end of 2008 have the potential to eliminate the problems of embedded, wireless 3G notebook purchases.”
Gartner analysts said organizations could consider embedded 3G in new notebook purchases for moderate to extensive travelers in 2009.
“Various influencing factors are transitioning to a point where embedded 3G will become superior from a cost perspective compared with previously used alternatives, such as Wi-Fi ‘hot spots’ and hotel broadband for wide-area use,” added Leslie Fiering, research vice president at Gartner, in a statement.
Historically, embedded WWANs have been tied to specific technologies and service providers, meaning that users could not just swap cards out when they moved to an area not covered by a certain carrier. Ongoing service costs at an average estimate of $600 a year were difficult to justify, and roaming charges could drive costs even higher. Additionally, the tremendous churn in WWAN technologies and frequencies could make a WWAN card obsolete within two years inside a notebook with a three-year expected life.
New technologies and pricing structures are set to change this. Chipsets that combine multiple technologies and frequencies can provide nearly universal geographic coverage and asset protection by promising a three-year useful life. At the same time, carriers are beginning to recognize the value of going beyond two-year contracts to include daily and monthly rates, as well as programs for letting international travelers use local rates on pay-per-day plans.