AT&T And CDW Offer Subsidized Netbooks To SMBs - InformationWeek

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7/1/2009
07:37 PM
Fredric Paul
Fredric Paul
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AT&T And CDW Offer Subsidized Netbooks To SMBs

Wanna buy a netbook real cheap? How about $199? No problem. All you have to do is sign this little 2-year contract for 3G data services...

Wanna buy a netbook real cheap? How about $199? No problem. All you have to do is sign this little 2-year contract for 3G data services...I don't mean to make the deal sound shady. Less than $200 for an Acer or HP netbook is a darn good price. But the deal does come with strings attached. To get the best price, you have to sign up for a 2-year mobile data contract at $60 per month for up to 5GB of data transfer. Of course, that adds up to cost far more than the full price of a brand new laptop.

It's still a good deal -- considering you're saving about $150 off the netbook's retail price -- if you need that kind of high-speed wide area connectivity. Not so much if you were planning to get by with wired Ethernet or free Wi-Fi connectivity.

Still, according to Marin Perez at InformationWeek:

The integrated modems can access 3G networks in more than 80 countries, although roaming fees may apply. Additionally, these embedded netbooks get access to more than 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots at locations like McDonald's restaurants, Four Seasons hotels, and other public venues.

It will be interesting to see if small businesses actually sign up for the service in large numbers. To date, most netbooks have been bought by individuals as secondary devices for mobile use, even if they use them in their jobs. But 3G service is expensive, and many folks may look to their employers to pay for this kind of arrangement if it's needed for their job.

Note that the deal also covers Panasonic's Toughbook line of ruggedized laptops with embedded 3G modems. And that Verizon Wireless offers a similar deal on HP netbooks. Similarly, Cellular South is rumored to offer subsidies on a Dell Mini 10 netbook later this summer.

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