Subsidized Laptops With Locked In Wireless Broadband Contracts

from the good-or-bad? dept

A few years back, after noting the trend of laptop companies to start building in cellular data modems into their laptops, we wondered when it would reach the stage where mobile operators would subsidize the cost of a laptop, just as they subsidize the cost of mobile phones in many cases. In early 2006, we started to see such subsidized laptops go on sale in Europe, with the mobile operators selling the laptops directly for well below list price, as long as you bought into a long term data plan. The whole idea seemed a bit strange, as mobile operators have long ranted long and hard about how much they hate, hate, hate subsidies, and how they wish they could do away with them. So, why add them to laptops?

However, the idea has now traveled over to the US as well, in a deal between Acer, Radio Shack and AT&T allowing people to buy an Acer netbook for just $100, so long as they agree to a 2 year $60/month contract for an AT&T mobile data plan. It's still a little confusing as to why the mobile operators are agreeing to this, following so many vehement arguments against mobile phone subsidies, but perhaps they're finally realizing that those subsidies aren't such a bad thing when they get people using their services. Still, how long will it be until buyers start complaining about early termination fees for laptops like they do for mobile phones?

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  1. identicon
    Shoshana, 17 Dec 2008 @ 11:04am

    Something to think about

    Most or all of the carriers have started imposing limits on how much data you can download using phone as modem or using a broadband card. Most of them are 5 Gb limits which is ok if all you do is check mail and surf some.

    I'd check on limits before I signed up...

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