Lenovo has begun equipping one of its ThinkPad notebooks with the BroadbandConnect wireless WAN service from Cingular Wireless.
The PC maker, which already offers hardware that allows several of its ThinkPad models sold in the United States to connect to Verizon Wireless EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized) service, on Aug. 22 began offering ThinkPad T60 models with the hardware needed to use the Cingular service as well.
Lenovo and others are aiming to capitalize on the need of many businesses to access the Internet and e-mail while outside of Wi-Fi hotspots.
Between the higher speed and greater availability of current cellular-based WWAN networks and the ability of manufacturers to install the hardware necessary to access them directly into the chassis, the number of WWAN-equipped notebooks is expected to rise rapidly in the coming years.
Shipments of WWAN-equipped notebooks will rise from a few hundred thousand units in 2005 to as many as 20 million units by 2010, according to a recent report by Endpoint Technologies Associates, in Wayland, Mass.
The worlds top three notebook makers each now offer at least one model that connects with one of the two services from Cingular and Verizon Wireless in the United States.
Lenovo began selling its Cingular BroadbandConnect-equipped ThinkPad T60s, which its Web site lists as starting at $1,899, on Aug. 22.
Meanwhile, Dell and Hewlett-Packard have also gotten in on the WWAN game.
HP offers machines such as the HP Compaq Business Notebook nc6320, which is equipped with Verizon Wireless EvDO. Dell offers the option to install one of the two services in business notebooks such as its Latitude D620 and D820.
Purchasing WWAN hardware from one of the manufacturers typically adds between about $200 and $250 to the cost of a notebook.
WWAN service pricing varies. But both Cingular and Verizon Wireless offer unlimited access plans at $59.99 per month for existing voice plan customers and $79.99 per month for non-customers.
Lenovo customers buying such machines can activate the Cingular BroadbandConnect service—which offers typical download speeds of between 400 and 700 kilobits per second and is available in 70 markets in the United States—through Lenovo and receive bills directly from Cingular.
Unlimited monthly BroadbandConnect service will cost $59.99 per month with a two-year contract and qualified voice contract, Lenovo said in its statement.