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
    Paul Brinker, 17 Dec 2008 @ 4:51pm

    Data Contract limits

    I signed up for the "Unlimited data plan" if sprint wants to tell me its not really unlimited then by god there eather changing the terms of my contract (which allows me to get out of said contract) or thay lied to me and Ill have a nice talk with the legal department about telling someone something is umlimited and then going around there backs and saying its not.

    To be honest Qwest sold me the same thing, Unlimited 150kB/s with a price lock even, And to be honest, they kept there bargan and I have almost aways had that data rate (at least im not having fake packets reseting my connections)

    The day anyone says something thay sold you isent quite what they sold you, is the day your free to brake your contract because the company already did.

    Keep in mind im a power user, I use my home computer to stream video to my cell phone etc. So I really expect to get what I pay for.

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