March 31, 2009 at 10:36 pm
Mobile phone operators the world over are looking to subsidise netbooks to boost data usage. Netbooks are offered for a typically low upfront cost with the money made back through lucrative long-term data contracts. This model is similar to that of mobile phones, however whereas a wireless carrier can easily switch off the service to a cell phone if a bill is unpaid, there is little it can do for a subsidised netbook contract.
The company can cut off the netbooks 3G access, but the operator would still be out of pocket. The buyer would be left with a netbook that’s fully usable except for 3G broadband. However, one company has found a work around.
Ericsson has announced a new modem that can send a signal that completely disables the netbook, making it impossible to turn on. “We call it a `kill pill,’” said Mats Norin, Ericsson’s vice president of mobile broadband modules. This module works on AT&T’s third-generation network, and on many other international 3G networks.
Personally I find it hard to believe that a mobile operator would resort to such action, however the module has other uses. For instance, a company could secure its data by locking down stolen laptops wirelessly. The new modem can also stay active while the netbook is off, listening for wireless messages. That means it could wake up and alert the user when it receives an important e-mail.