Dell laptop users get connected through Telus EVDO network

Dell Canada is pre-installing some of its Latitude and XPS notebooks with modems designed to access Telus’s EVDO cellular network.

Users that buy one of these notebooks will have the option of connecting to the Telus high-speed network or letting the equipment determine the best means of connectivity (either the slighter lower bandwidth 1XRTT connection or a Telus hotspot through a Wi-Fi connection) based on the user’s location.

Mobile computing has been moving in this direction for the past few years, said Peter McNeill, national brand manager, mobile products, Dell Canada. As mini PCI cards have shrunk in size, there’s more room available for other equipment.

“We knew we would be able to put in a couple more cards inside a notebook. That led us to start to dream up different things that we could put in there, like GPS, wireless wide area networking, Wi-Fi,” he said.

This is a first for Dell in Canada, but the company has explored carrier relationships in other countries. Dell has a relationship with Vodafone in Europe and, since February of this year, Cingular and Verizon in the U.S. Earlier this week, it added one more American to its roster through an announcement with Sprint.

Once relationships with American carriers were secured, McNeill said he started looking for Canadian telcos to bring on board. “Whether it was GSM-based or CDMA-based, at the start of all this it really didn’t matter,” said McNeill. “We wanted a partner that could work well with our design, development and engineering teams in Austin.”

Telus, like Bell Canada, uses CDMA as its platform of choice. McNeill said he’d be interested in wooing a GSM carrier next so Dell would have both cellular standards. GSM also has a larger global footprint than CDMA. “If I had to pick, I’d say I’d love to work with Rogers on GSM side of things,” he said, adding that more carriers will be added to Dell’s line-up in the next year.

Telus also has relationships with other laptop OEMs like Panasonic, said Chris Langdon, vice-president of network services, for the B.C.-based company and has a pre-existing relationship with Panasonic. Like McNeill, he sees an increasing number of ties developing between laptop manufacturers and mobile carriers, particularly as the hardware has evolved to allow for a greater variety of connectivity options.

 “This is the logical next step,” he said.

 “Most of the OEMs on the laptop side have launched in the United States and some have launched in Europe. They’ll start launching in Canada over the next 12 to 24 months.”

People will switch laptops as they do cell phones, he said, moving their mobility billing plans over and they upgrade their hardware. Pre-existing Telus customers will be able to use their current plans with the Dell notebooks.


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