One of the things people find annoying about mobile phone service is that, often, their phones are locked to one provider. This is usually more of a problem in the US, than elsewhere -- and part of the issue is the multiple networks available in the US. However, it's definitely a frustration point among users. Imagine if your computer could only work with a single ISP? Well, actually, you might not have to imagine any more, as the folks at Sony and Cingular are teaming up to build in a Cingular wireless data connection into a Sony laptop. There are so many problems with this, it's hard to figure out where to start. First, of course, the idea that you'd be locked into getting wireless access from a single provider. Computer makers could build WiFi into laptops because it was standardized and everyone was using it. Second, wireless broadband technology is changing so rapidly, that this will be obsolete very quickly. In this case, they're only offering EDGE service, which Cingular is already working to replace (and which is already slower than EV-DO service from Verizon Wireless and, soon, Sprint). Of course, on the mobile phone side, supporters of the locked model always point to the benefit of subsidized handsets. The service provider gets you a good deal on the phone so you don't mind being stuck on their network. However, in this case, Cingular isn't offering any subsidy for the laptop. In fact, it's Sony that's selling them, with just one free month of $80 EDGE service as the incentive. This seems like an idea that wasn't exactly baked fully.
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