Sixteen of the world’s most high-profile IT and mobile companies have backed a new initiative aimed at promoting mobile broadband devices as an alternative to Wi-Fi, the GSM Association (GSMA) said in a press statement this morning. In the first phase of the plan, mobile operators, PC manufacturers and chipset providers will join forces to pre-install mobile broadband connectivity (focused on GSM-based technologies) into a range of notebook PCs, available initially in 91 countries worldwide. According to an earlier Pyramid Research study commissioned by the GSMA and Microsoft, the market for mobile broadband-enabled notebooks in the high-growth, mass market US$500 to US$1,000 price range will be worth some US$50 billion in 2008. The GSMA says it has also created a ‘Mobile Broadband service mark’ (logo), which will act as a global identifier allowing consumers to easily identify ‘ready to run’ mobile broadband devices. The service mark will be supported by a US$1 billion media spend over the next year. Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer at the GSMA, forecast that the service mark would be included on “several hundred thousand notebooks” in time for the Christmas holiday season. 

The GSMA says that integrating mobile broadband into notebook PCs is the first step in a wider strategy to deliver mobile Internet access in a whole range of previously unconnected devices, including cameras, MP3 players, refrigerators, cars and set-top boxes. Companies involved in the initiative from launch include 3 Group, Asus, Dell, ECS, Ericsson, Gemalto, Lenovo, Microsoft, Orange, Qualcomm, Telefónica Europe, Telecom Italia, TeliaSonera, T-Mobile, Toshiba and Vodafone.