HP Taps Qualcomm for Wireless Technology

The world's largest PC maker is looking to Qualcomm to provide its laptops with enhanced wireless technology.

Hewlett-Packard is tapping Qualcomm to provide next-generation wireless technology for its new line of enterprise-class notebooks that will be available later this year.

At the start of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Feb. 11, HP announced that it would begin adding Qualcomm's "Gobi" wireless technology into the new business notebooks that it plans to introduce later this year.

Qualcomm first introduced its Gobi 3G broadband technology in October, and company officials said the platform will work on both the CDMA2000 EV-DO and UMTS HSPA worldwide networks. The platform includes the company's MDM1000 chip set, associated software and API.

The announcement that HP will be offering 3G-enabled notebooks sets up what might be the first skirmish between supporters of 3G wireless technology and those backing WiMax as the viable successor to Wi-Fi wireless.

The biggest supporter of WiMax at the platform level is Intel, which is moving ahead with its plans to test its technology with different networks throughout the United States and overseas this year. The chip giant plans to roll out in 2008 its "Montevina" mobile platform that will use Intel's new 45-nanometer microprocessors and a new technology called "Eco Peak," which integrates both WiMax and Wi-Fi technology onto the silicon.

Other companies, such as Qualcomm, have argued for 3G as the new standard. The platform also provides flexibility since it works with all the major carriers, including Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. For enterprise users, notebooks with the Gobi‑if the technology works as promised‑should allow for better Internet connectivity and enhanced mobility without making significant changes to the hardware itself.

Richard Shim, an analyst with IDC, said that since WiMax is only being tested at this point, 3G broadband has a distinct advantage since users can start taking advantage of the technology right now. The deal with HP could also help lower the price.

"For Qualcomm to get HP is a pretty big deal," Shim said. "Right now, WiMax doesn't have that big of a stage. It is still being tested; it's not really offered in clients yet and the networks don't have the infrastructure built out yet."

For Qualcomm, the deal with HP also gives it access to the world's top supplier of PCs. HP also works closely with Intel and will likely begin offering notebooks with the Montevina platform once it hits the market.