Broadband wireless cards for laptops

* One of the strongest early trends in advanced communications services

As Nemertes launches its research benchmark on advanced communications services, one of the strongest early trends is the huge level of interest and adoption in broadband wireless cards for laptops. (In fact, as I write this column while at the airport, I’m relying on mine to deliver this file—without having to pay $5.99 for 1 hour of Wi-Fi airport access.)

As Nemertes launches its research benchmark on advanced communications services, one of the strongest early trends is the huge level of interest and adoption in broadband wireless cards for laptops. (In fact, as I write this column while at the airport, I’m relying on mine to deliver this file - without having to pay $5.99 for 1 hour of Wi-Fi airport access.)

The IT executives of virtually every company we’ve interviewed in the first few weeks of the four-month project have said they are overwhelmed by the number of requests for broadband wireless - and the fact that business-unit leaders are seeing a clear ROI for certain types of workers.

Indeed, these cards serve a huge purpose to mobile and remote employees. Not only do they provide respectable speeds for Internet and corporate VPN connectivity while on the road, they serve as backup when the branch-office or home-office DSL or cable modem line is out.

A new offering from Sprint and Alcatel-Lucent, though, makes the broadband wireless card an even more functional device. It secures the laptop, and helps the IT staff remotely manage it.

The so-called Mobile Broadband connection card acts as a two-factor authentication device. Sprint describes it as an “ignition key” that needs to be inserted into the laptop the same way a car key must be inserted into the ignition. Basically, you can’t use your laptop without the card.

Beyond that, it lets the IT staff remotely revoke authentication so if a user loses his or her laptop, it makes it difficult for thieves to access the data or worse, the corporate network. IT staffs can see whether laptops are powered on, the status of the operating system, and the location of it, via GPS contained in the card.

When connected to the network, the laptop receives security updates and patches, as well as software distributions, via the Sprint mobile broadband network.

This product is incredibly powerful for mobile workers, and offers a huge value for the central IT staff. Not only does it serve the core function of a broadband mobile card, it adds features that help alleviate some of the key concerns about using mobile broadband. This product/service combo should be on the short list when you’re evaluating broadband mobile offerings.

Editor's note: Starting Tuesday, Nov, 20, this newsletter will be renamed "Branch Office Best Practices Alert." Subscribers to the HTML version of this newsletter will notice some enhancements that will provide you with access to more resources relevant to branch office networking. You will still receive Robin Gareiss' analysis of this market, which you will be able to read in its entirety online at NetworkWorld.com, along with links to relevant news headlines of the day. We hope you enjoy the enhancements and we thank you for reading Network World newsletters.

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