Qualcomm's new Gobi: A WiMax and Wi-Fi killer?

New embedded laptop module can be software-updated for a variety of carriers

Qualcomm's Gobi, an embedded laptop module allowing for wide-area wireless connectivity, is poised to upset the apple cart, offering alternatives to Wi-Fi and even emerging WiMax.

The next-generation Gobi module will be selling in Dell laptops, and possibly those from other manufacturers, later this year. New capabilities will support multiple cellular networks for the first time, Dell and Qualcomm officials announced today.

Embedded laptop wide-area wireless chips have been criticized In current configurations by Gartner analysts and others, who noted that their technology required sticking with one carrier or technology for the life of a laptop. Many IT managers may want to change carriers before a laptop's full life is realized at three years or more.

Gartner's current advice is not to use existing embedded modules, but the advice could change with the advent of the new Gobi later this year, according to Ken Dulaney, an analyst at the firm. The new Gobi is "a tremendous chip in terms of its versatility and ability to be a stable asset in a laptop lasting for three years or so," he said.

Dell said it would provide the built-in Gobi in Latitude, Dell Precision and other consumer laptops later this year. In one example, Dell said US-based travelers who connect their laptops via EV-DO carriers such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel will be able to use the new Gobi to connect in Europe via HSPA carrier networks such as Vodafone. Today, customers wanting to connect to both types of networks must use two different mobile broadband cards, Dell said.

The new Gobi technology is software-configurable, and allows a user to switch between network carriers. Dulaney said Gartner has recommended separate laptop cards instead of embedded technology to aid users who wish to swap them out.

At CTIA Wireless 2008, T-Mobile International also said it has certified the new Gobi technology to "free notebook users to connect via leading 3G networks virtually anywhere."

Greg Raleigh, vice president of product management for Qualcomm CDMA technologies, said that he expects more laptop makers and carriers to endorse the new Gobi approach in coming months.

With Gobi, users can be untethered from Wi-Fi hot spots, Raleigh said.

Dulaney predicted that carriers would begin offering new wide-area wireless data pricing plans so that users pay as they go, much as they do for Wi-Fi. "It may be the end of the year before we see all these offers in concrete," he said.

Gobi could be a real concern for WiMax developers who are also offering high-speed wireless access to mobile users, Dulaney added.

"In part, this technology's being built to defeat WiMax, but really they are trying to include WAN wireless in the same category as Wi-Fi," he said.

And service providers might not be the only ones to find profit models disrupted by Gobi, notes Dulaney. Even if the new Gobi raises the price of a laptop by US$100, a user traveling just twice a year for several days would pay for the cost by not having to pay hotel Wi-Fi connection fees of US$10 to $14 a night.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matt Hamblen

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?