Panasonic's Toughbooks to carry omni-connective 'Gobi'

Qualcomm's "global mobile Internet chip" Gobi, announced last October, is an SoC that enables connectivity to EV-DO Rev. A, UMTS, and HSPA networks as well as GPS. Today, Panasonic announced the chips will be used in upcoming Toughbooks.

According to Gartner research, embedded wireless broadband was seen as a problem for notebooks because of the disparity between available technologies, rapid evolution in the field, and the limitations of aligning with just one network. This is why Qualcomm developed the multi-connection software-swappable modem used in Gobi.

The multi-mode chips seem a perfect fit for Panasonic's rugged line of workplace laptops, as remote job site connectivity can be a severe impediment to productivity. Through deals with Vodafone and Verizon, these laptops gain intercontinental 3G connectivity. Beginning in October, the Toughbook 19 convertible tablet and flagship Toughbook 30 will be shipped with Gobi, and Panasonic has plans to integrate Qualcomm's technology into all of its mobile computing products.

Meanwhile, companies such as Acer and Lenovo have aligned with Intel, enabling select laptops with WiMAX connectivity. Some devices are rumored to be subsidized by Sprint for use on the company's Xohm WiMAX network, but the company thus far has eschewed the WiMAX subsidy model.

In Panasonic's statement today, it says it expects Gobi will receive Sprint's approval, but this is most likely for its EV-DO network, not Xohm.

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