AT&T Inc. (T), the second largest US wireless carrier, announced the availability of netbooks and laptops from Dell Inc. (DELL) for small businesses.
Customers from small businesses across the US now have access to these premium devices that exclusively use AT&T’s 3G wireless technology. The devices include Dell Inspiron Mini 10 netbook and Dell Vostro 1520 laptop.
AT&T is increasingly focusing on extending its 3G wireless capabilities from smartphones to a wide range of emerging devices in order to expand the market penetration of its 3G data services. In July 2009, the company launched several embedded netbooks and laptops from industry-leading manufacturers, such as Hewlett Packard (HPQ), Acer and Panasonic, targeted exclusively to increase connectivity for small businesses.
Carriers across the globe are aggressively selling netbooks and associated data plans in order to boost data usage and revenue. Industry estimates reveal that worldwide shipment of netbooks reached 11.6 million in 2008 and is expected to grow double-digit over the next few years.
AT&T’s move to sell embedded netbooks and laptops also comes in response to Verizon‘s (VZ) initiative to market subsidized netbooks in collaboration with Hewlett Packard. Another major rival, Sprint Nextel (S) is also selling netbooks using its network.
The newly-unveiled netbooks and laptops will enable small business customers to seamlessly connect anywhere in the US and over 170 countries globally using AT&T’s GSM wireless network, including 3G access in 80 countries. Moreover, it also provides access to the company’s 125,000 Wi-Fi (wireless broadband) hotspots globally, including 20,000 in the U.S.
Customers can buy Dell Vostro 1520 for as low as $633 and can avail up to $120 discount on the other Dell devices. However, buyers have to sign up for AT&T’s two-year $60 per month DataConnect 5GB service plan, which is quite expensive. Thus, it remains to be seen how the market responds to this offer.
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