Acer looks to supply 3G netbooks

Acer, the world’s third largest PC vendor, is in talks with several 3G (third-generation) network operators at home and in Europe to supply Aspire one netbooks with built-in 3G.

The company is discussing supplying its mini-laptops to Chunghwa Telecom and Taiwan Mobile in Taiwan, as well as T-Mobile International, Vodafone Group and Orange in Europe, an Acer representative said.

No word yet on any Canadian plans.

The Aspire one already comes with Wi-Fi 802.11b/g for wireless Internet access, but the company also left room to install WiMax or 3G modules as well. WiMax, which is broadband wireless Internet similar to Wi-Fi, hasn’t rolled out broadly across the world, but 3G networks are up and running in many places, particularly Asia and Europe.

The 3G module Acer will add allows Web access using HSDPA and HSUPA (High Speed Downlink/Uplink Packet Access), giving users fast Internet access nearly anywhere, anytime.

The Acer representative said no talks have yet been finalized and prices have not been discussed.

The Aspire one is priced between $399 and $499 stand-alone, but mobile service providers could subsidize part of that cost to encourage people to sign up for a 3G contracts.

The Aspire one weighs around 1 kilogram and sports an 8.9-inch screen. Prices vary depending on what software and hardware it comes with. The device comes with either a Linpus Linux Lite OS or Windows XP, uses a 1.6GHz Intel Atom microprocessor as its calculating engine, and comes with varying amounts of DRAM, data storage from an 8G byte SSD (solid-state drive) to a 120G byte HDD (hard-disk drive), and either a 3-cell or 6-cell battery.

Other mini-laptop makers are also in talks with mobile phone service providers, including Asustek Computer with its Eee PC. Taiwan’s Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS), says it has already signed up wireless service providers in Europe to distribute its G10IL netbook.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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