Vodafone UK and laptop-manufacturer Lenovo have struck a deal to ship laptops with a built-in Vodafone 3G connection. The laptops will include an Ericsson mobile broadband module, which Lenovo claims will retail “approximately the same price” as the company’s standard models. According to PC Pro, built-in datacards usually cost around £100 as an optional extra. The first models to be released with the modules will be part of the Thinkpad SL, T and X series and will be aimed at small businesses. The laptops will give customers a free 30-day trial to Vodafone’s 3G network after which they will need to pay a monthly subscription. However, it is unclear if the modules can be unlocked to use with other 3G networks. Lenovo is the world’s fourth-largest PC vendor.
Embedded mobile broadband modules are seen as an alternative to USB dongles and external datacards. As well as the alliance with Lenovo, Ericsson also struck a deal this year to embed the technology in Dell laptops. Ericsson said at the time that approximately 200 million laptops will ship annually by 2011 and that around 50 percent of these will feature built-in HSPA mobile broadband. Dell’s ‘Inspiron 1525’ laptop was judged a winner of the GSMA’s Mobile Broadband Notebook Competition at this year’s GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.