Dell widens its wireless array

The TrueMobile 5100 card, which uses GPRS cellular technology, is meant to give travelers backup Internet access when they're out of range of a Wi-Fi network.

John G. Spooner Staff Writer, CNET News.com
John Spooner
covers the PC market, chips and automotive technology.
John G. Spooner
2 min read
Dell is doing its own brand of wireless for travelers.

The Round Rock, Texas, PC maker on Monday introduced the TrueMobile 5100 Tri-Band GPRS card. The PC card's price is $99 when it is purchased along with a monthly access plan.

The card, which can use one of two General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) cellular networks to access the Internet, is meant to give travelers backup Internet access when they're out of range of a Wi-Fi network. The TrueMobile 5100 does not include a Wi-Fi element, however. Most Dell notebooks now come with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities. Customers can add the TrueMobile 5100 when ordering a Dell notebook or purchase it separately from Dell's software and peripherals group, the company said.

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Because of wireless networks' utility for businesses, Dell has made the technology central to many of its products--the Axim X3 handheld has a Wi-Fi option, for example--and will continue to incorporate the technology into other products next year, the company has said.

Though it operates only at modest speeds equivalent to those of a PC modem, the TrueMobile 5100 card is useful for keeping up on things like e-mail, when other networks are not available, Dell said.

The card is also the latest in a long string of products Dell has begun marketing under its own brand name. The company typically partners with a third party to test new markets and then later jumps in with its own product, which is often less expensive. In this case it used and continues to offer on its Web site a GPRS card manufactured by Sierra Wireless.

Dell followed a similar route in the printer market, and it also recently began selling Dell-brand music players and a digital television.

The PC maker will offer the TrueMobile 5100 card with monthly service plans from ATT Wireless or T-Mobile. T-Mobile offers unlimited Internet access via GPRS for $29.99 per month. ATT Wireless' GPRS Internet access plans start at $29.99 for 10MB of data per month, Dell said.

The TrueMobile 5100 card can also operate outside the United States in areas such as Europe, a company representative said.