Ericsson has introduced two new mobile broadband modules that, among other feats, are likely to escalate the current battle between tablet makers, all working to shave millimeters off the size of their iPad competitors.
The modules, unmemorably named the H5321gw and C5321gw, are thinner, 40 percent smaller and three times faster than the company's previous modules, and work on both WCDMA/HSPA+ and GSM/EDGE networks. The former, designed for tablets and computers, will be available to electronics customers in October, and the latter, created for cameras, handheld gaming devices, media players, navigation devices and machine-to-machine functionalities, will be available in September and so make it into consumer devices likely in time for the holidays.With the high-speed modules, tablets could stream HD video, said Ericsson, a cloud-based MP3 player could access a user's music library from anywhere, and a digital camera could instantly upload to the cloud, eliminating the need for a big memory card."Ericsson's mission is to have 50 billion connected devices by 2020," Mats Norin, vice president of mobile broadband modules for Ericsson, told eWEEK.Facebook and other types of social networking are driving smartphone use, and young users are comfortable with an always-on society. "People really want to have more connectivity in their devices," said Norin, and Ericsson, whose equipment is currently facilitating approximately half of the world's online traffic, will be happy to provide it.Ericsson has been working with AT&T, which has a 3G Access program "designed to offer next-generation consumer electronics and machine-to-machine device manufacturers high-performance 3G modules at a lower cost," Ericsson said in a March 22 statement. According to Technology Business Research analyst Ken Hyers, AT&T has been expanding into the M2M space "very aggressively."By 2015, TBR is projecting that the number of global M2M connections will exceed the number of wireless voice connections - offering motivation for AT&T and other carriers to get behind the technology. Much of that growth, Hyers said, will come from enterprises automating their services with M2M-based applications. For example, everything from farming equipment to parking meters and furnaces can now proactively communicate their status or the need for a repair.More straightforwardly, consumers will also get to enjoy the benefits of the modules. Not only will they enable thinner products in hand, but embedded modules perform better - offering higher-quality service and less of a battery drain - than, say, a 3G dongle."With Ericsson's new module, equipment makers, including those producing tablets, will have another critical tool necessary to create streamlined designs for mobile broadband connectivity at an affordable cost," Glenn Lurie, AT&T Mobility's president of emerging devices, resale and partnerships, said in the statement.The Apple iPad 2, Norin noted on a call, is 8.8mm thick. "That means the rest of the world is targeting 8.8mm," he said. "We realized we need to have modules fulfilling this requirement."At the CTIA Wireless 2011 event, underway in Orlando, Fla., as Ericsson made its announcement, manufacturers were busy proving there's no such thing as too thin, and those sub-9 millimeters were indeed a point of focus. Samsung, during a March 22 event it had dropped hints about, out-skinnied even Apple with the introduction of two new Galaxy Tab devices, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9. At 1.31 pounds, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is lighter than the 1.33-pound iPad 2, and the Galaxy Tab 8.9, measuring a super-slim 8.6 mm, manages to outdo the 8.8mm-thin iPad 2. "We've created a new class of products that will lead the tablet market," Samsung President JK Shin said in a statement.