Dell, Telus target mobile professionals

With mobility a fact of life for businesses these days, mobile professionals are always looking for secure and reliable Internet connections. Telus Corp. and Dell Canada Inc. have teamed up in an effort to deliver just that.

Employing Telus’ Wireless High Speed Service, which operates on the EV-DO wireless standard, the exclusive agreement allows customers who buy Dell Latitude and XPS notebooks and Dell Precision mobile workstations to access Telus’ network via integrated modems.

EV-DO, or Evolution-Data Optimized, is used by many mobile phone companies that use the CDMA wireless standard. The service gives customers broadband download speeds of 400 to 700Kbps.

The PC market is reaching a point where catering to the mobile professional with reliable and easy access to wireless is now a natural and essential progression, one analyst says.

“We’re finally getting to that point where there’s traction here and it will definitely be more of a commercial play than a consumer play,” says Eddie Chan, research analyst of mobile computing at IDC Canada Ltd.

“What it breaks down to is seamless connectivity irrespective of whether it’s a local area network or wide area network. Eventually we’ll get to the metropolitan area network.”

Peter MacNeill, senior brand manager of mobile products for Dell Canada Inc., says that “it’s giving people different options on being able to connect. The value-added is now you don’t have to worry about Internet access; you just need cell phone coverage.”

EV-DO, is run on 3G cellular networks that support bandwidth-hungry rich media applications and video, explains Chris Langdon, vice-president of network services for Telus.

While the current Telus-Dell model runs on EV-DO’s Rev 0 network, there are plans to install Rev A technology on the network that will support download speeds between 600 and 800Kbps, with a theoretical maximum download speed of 3.1Mbps.

“Broadband has an asymmetric usage profile, so people are downloading more than uploading. The other advantage is reduced latency. Rev A will support 15 to 20 milliseconds latency,” Langdon says.

“There’s one enabling and certifying radio module, which is a modem and that gets embedded in the Dell Latitude or XPS notebook. There’s a fair bit of work involved in certification to make sure it works correctly on our network and of course on the Dell side, there’s the whole integrating and manufacturing,” he says.

But why would a business want to use 3G networks for data transmission through heavy, expensive laptops with legions of smartphones and PDAs already able to connect?

“In terms of devices, it’s all about workflow. Not everything is conducive to the small real estate on smartphones. In terms of scalability, usability, the PC will still reign supreme on that front,” Chan says.

The service will have an initial coverage in 21 urban centres across Canada such as Vancouver and Toronto, as well as smaller locations. Telus also says when EV-DO service is not available, customers can use Telus’ 1X network that reaches 94 per cent of the country.

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