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Laptop maker Dell Inc. said that starting next year it would sell computers that feature built-in support for Cingular Wireless L.L.C.'s forthcoming UMTS/HSDPA network. The announcement represents a strike against Verizon Wireless, which earlier this week said Dell, Lenovo Group Ltd. and Hewlett-Packard Co. would sell laptops with embedded support for its CDMA EV-DO network.

Not to be left out, Panasonic Computer Solutions Co. announced it would sell ruggedized laptops with built-in support for Cingular's EDGE network. The company also boasted of its EV-DO-capable laptops for Sprint Nextel Corp.

Laptop maker Dell Inc. said that starting next year it would sell computers that feature built-in support for Cingular Wireless L.L.C.'s forthcoming UMTS/HSDPA network. The announcement represents a strike against Verizon Wireless, which earlier this week said Dell, Lenovo Group Ltd. and Hewlett-Packard Co. would sell laptops with embedded support for its CDMA EV-DO network.

Not to be left out, Panasonic Computer Solutions Co. announced it would sell ruggedized laptops with built-in support for Cingular's EDGE network. The company also boasted of its EV-DO-capable laptops for Sprint Nextel Corp.

The flurry of news highlights a new and notable new trend in the U.S. wireless industry. Until now, most laptop makers have been content to support wide area wireless connections through PC cards, which were sold separately. Now, with HSDPA and EV-DO networks coming online, laptop makers are building the technology directly into their products. The situation pits third-generation networks against Wi-Fi technology, which currently is embedded in laptops from a range of vendors.

Already, Sony Corp. sells a laptop with built-in support for Cingular's EDGE network.

The issue is key for modem makers Sierra Wireless Inc. and Novatel Wireless Inc., which sell the modems that laptop makers install into their offerings. Indeed, Sierra's products run inside of Panasonic's and Lenovo's laptops. Both Novatel and Sierra have watched their stock prices rise in response to this week's laptop announcements.


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