Dell Hangs Up on Cell Phones

The cellular handset business doesn't catch the eye of Dell executives, but the networks that connect the phones do.

Dell says it has no plans to get into the cellular phone business. But its still big on wireless.

The Round Rock, Texas, company, which on Thursday reported its first-quarter earnings, described reports that it would begin selling cellular phone subscriptions in 2006 as inaccurate on Thursday afternoon.

"We have no intentions or plans to go into the cell phone business," Kevin Rollins, Dell Inc.s CEO, said in on a conference call with reporters following its earnings report.

But Dell, which has entered numerous markets adjacent to its core PC business over the past several years, including printers and network switches, has embraced wireless, offering both Wi-Fi and WWAN (wireless wide-area network) services for its notebooks.

The company, which offers several varieties of Wi-Fi modules in its business notebooks and also built into its Axim handheld, has also been offering wide area wireless for about the last two years.

Recently, it began promoting Cingulars Cingular EDGE network service, which pairs a Sony Ericsson GC83 card and a monthly subscription to allow a notebook user to access the Internet via Cingulars GSM or GPRS networks.

Right now, Dell charges $199 for the GC83 card, if its purchased with a new system. Its $299 if purchased separately via Dells software and peripherals group. A customer must then sign up for monthly service with Cingular, a company spokeswoman said.

/zimages/2/28571.gifRead more here about Dells new Gigabit Ethernet switches.

Generally, wide-area networking services for notebooks are used by field sales agents or other travelers who need to access the Internet and or download corporate e-mail, while outside the range of a Wi-Fi access point.

The Cingular Edge service offers between 70-kilobits per second and 135-kilobits per second in about 8,500 U.S. cities, according to Dells Web site.

Cingular quotes monthly service rates at $19.99 for 5MB of data to $79.99 per month for unlimited downloads, not including the cost of the card, the companys Web site shows.

Dell also works with Sprint, among others, to offer additional WWAN products.

Dell isnt the only notebook maker to have take notice of wide-area wireless.

Earlier this week, Sony announced that a version of its Vaio T-Series notebook, the $2,299 VGN-T350P/S model, would offer a wireless triumvirate, combining the Cingular Edge service, Wi-Fi and the Bluetooth short-range wireless technology.

Still, theres a possibility Dell could skirt the edges of the cell phone market by building a Dell Axim handheld that pairs the lines traditional PDA characteristics with those of a cellular handset. But the company declined to comment on any such plans.

"Were always looking at the market," the Dell spokeswoman. But "We have no immediate plans to announce such a project."

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