Dell goes a bundle with T-Mobile hot spot subs
No announcement for Europe yet; but T-Mobile is going hell for leather for WiFi alongside its mobile phone service in the US, promoting it jointly with Dell.
Get them hooked early is the plan: Dell is taking on the role of hard-sell foot-in-the-door salesman with a T-Mobile hotspot subscription built into all new notebook computers.
The deal gives buyers a month, during which they can use all the WiFi broadband they can find - 2,000 minutes, in fact, which would be over an hour a day for a month. And at the end of the month, you're already signed up, and you can start getting billed.
T-Mobile HotSpot now claims to have America's largest commercial WiFi network with over 2,600 public locations, including numerous airports and airline clubs, Borders Books and Music stores, Starbucks coffeehouses - and soon at more than 1,000 Kinko's locations.
The phone operator claims to have "fully embraced" WiFi - and is certainly moving speedily in that direction, offering phone users a discount on GPRS data over 2.5 G phones, if they sign up for WiFi hotspot subscriptions. But getting the message out to phone users isn't the same as evangelising PC owners - and the Dell deal focuses on the computer industry. Probably, it will mean an increasing number of phone users will switch to T-Mobile from other providers, for the convenience of getting a single bill.
What isn't clear, is whether T-Mobile WiFi subscribers will be plugged into a roaming hotspot provider when they travel to Europe.
According to the press release, a Dell spokesman has praised the T-Mobile service.
Anthony Bonadero, director of Dell's wireless product group, said: "Their service provides our customers convenient and extensive high-speed wireless access that can help them be connected and productive in more locations," he said.
Dell customers can sign-up for a T-Mobile Wi-Fi service plan online. That avoids the need to pull a credit card out in a Starbucks coffee shop later. Armed with ID and password, customers with a WiFi-enabled notebook or handheld computer simply need to launch their Internet browser within a T-Mobile HotSpot location and log in.