The GSM Association, which represents 680 GSM operators around the world, has announced an agreement with Intel Corp to “facilitate and drive the adoption of the GSM family of technologies in laptop computers.”
The idea is for the Association and the San Jose, California-based semiconductor manufacturer to develop guidelines for integrating 3G modems and SIM cards into laptops so as to enable automatic connection to both 3GSM networks and WiFi networks around the world, using the same SIM card technology used by mobile phones today.
There has already been quite a bit of movement on this front from individual laptop manufacturers and operators: Verizon Wireless last year announced deals with Dell and Lenovo, though of course, as a CDMA operator, that was for embedded chipsets enabling connection to its EV-DO service (3.5G connectivity in the CDMA world). US GSM operator Cingular similarly unveiled an agreement with Dell on its GPRS/EDGE service.
This year, Dell has announced plans with Vodafone in Europe to embed HSDPA chipsets, and Fujistu Siemens Computers has a similar development underway with T-Mobile which will be unveiled at CeBIT next month. The rationale for the GSMA/Intel agreement is to set some standards for how to go about the embedding, so that, over time, all laptops can ship with cellular connectivity.
Sean Maloney, executive VP and general manager of Intel’s Mobility Group, commented that during 2006, many of our customers will offer Intel Centrino laptops that not only feature built in Wi-Fi technology, but also an internal 3GSM data card and an integrated SIM reader. He added that this will turn the notebook into a real multi-communications terminal, and the SIM into a real authentication vehicle for GSM, GPRS, EDGE, 3GSM, HSDPA and Wi-Fi networks.