New ThinkPads bundled with Vodafone

The Lenovo Group is set to release laptops with integrated high-speed mobile data.

The computer maker, which completed its acquisition of IBM’s PC business last year announced that it had signed a deal with Vodafone to allow Lenovo laptops to carry connectivity for its third-generation (3G) and GPRS wireless technologies into upcoming models of ThinkPad notebooks, including the T60 and the X60.

Lenovo will include technology supporting Vodafone’s 3G Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) network and General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) into versions of the ThinkPad that will be available in Europe by the second quarter of 2006.

The company also said it plans to integrate High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) technology, a faster version of UMTS, into laptops in the future, but did not specify a time frame.

The ThinkPad notebooks provide built-in, cost effective and secure mobile data connectivity enabling customers to access the Internet, email and corporate applications wherever a Vodafone signal is present.

“Our collaboration with Lenovo is an important part of Vodafone’s plan to provide customers with ever more compelling mobile solutions that use 3G to bring the full potential of mobile broadband to life,” said Nick Jeffery, Global Marketing Director Business, Vodafone.

“Vodafone helps us extend the mobile computing environment for ThinkPad customers, giving users access to a high-speed wireless network when and where they need to do business,” said Marc Godin, vice president, notebook marketing, for Lenovo. “In addition, our new Access Connections 4.1 software works with Vodafone’s 3G network, enabling users to move seamlessly from one available network connection to the next without downtime or costly help desk calls.”

Lenovo is joining Dell as the only two hardware vendors so far who have committed to building technology for supporting HSDPA networks into notebook computers. Dell also has tapped Vodafone as a partner in its plans to introduce HSDPA-enabled laptops in the second quarter.

HSDPA, which is said to be up to four times faster than current 3G wireless technologies, is in the early stages of rollout by various carriers. Vodafone plans to have HSDPA networks up and running in Europe and Asia by mid-year. In the US, Cingular began delivering HSDPA service in some US cities under the brand name “Broadband Connect” in December 2005.