Dell to bundle HSPA 'net access with PCs

Also operating as virtual network provider to simplify deal

Dell laptops

In a move that could spell changes for its laptop PCs worldwide, Dell is starting a service in Japan that bundles new machines with built-in instant internet access.

The Japanese arm of the world's number-two PC supplier is offering new laptops with internal HSPA cards that give them no-configure access to a 7.2Mbps wireless network across the entire country.

Attractive prices

Machines will go on sale sometime during the summer, with prices starting at ¥50,000 (£355) for the most basic netbook model and rising to almost four times that sum.

Given that Dell's existing line-up closely matches those prices, the value-add of the new service is likely to be a significant attraction.

However, access to the network will not be free – sources say Dell plans to bundle a fixed amount of initial online time, after which users will be able to pay by credit card for extra time used.

Virtual operator

Additionally, one of the most significant aspects of the move is that Dell is acting as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in partnership with NTT DoCoMo and has applied for a government licence to do so.

If the bold move helps Dell's bottom line in Japan, it's all but certain that it will be applied to other countries as well before long.