When Intel didn't include mobile broadband inside the next generation of Centrino, it left the door open for someone else to define a standard brand for the hardware needed for high-speed mobile internet access. To that end, mobile chipset behemoth Qualcomm hopes that customers will look for notebooks with 'Gobi' built-in.

Gobi = mobile broadband

HP has said that Qualcomm's Gobi system will be incorporated into its notebooks later this year and the technology will support the high-speed UMTS/HSPA mobile broadband. The embedded Gobi solution is based around Qualcomm's MDM1000 chipset.

Gobi is also network-agnostic. "The customer doesn't have to choose at the point of sale which carrier to use," HP's product marketing manager Richard Scraggs told us.

The idea of putting 3G broadband into a laptop has been done before. But Qualcomm is banking on the Centrino effect, hoping that consumers will come to recognise that the Gobi brand means mobile broadband.

As well as trying to appeal to the consumer market, Qualcomm expects that customers will grow frustrated with existing mobile broadband offerings. "If there's a dongle, often these things break," says Greg Raleigh, head of wireless connectivity at Qualomm. "[The Gobi] technology is capable of connecting wherever you go."

Mobile broadband is a "no-brainer"

As far as the issue of consumers taking up mobile broadband is concerned, Raleigh suggests that it might turn out to be a no-brainer. "Why should I pay for DSL when I have this awesome opportunity...we're talking several megabits of speed," he says.

Although the vision of constant internet connectivity is still some way off, Raleigh thinks it will be crucial to how we use laptops and mobile devices in the future. "We want the [connection] to be invoked in the background. You'll never see it. You may get a pop-up telling you what type of technology you're connected through, but otherwise it's the internet."

And Scraggs sees plenty of potential. "I see [mobile broadband] starting to grow and continue to grow over the next few years. By 2010-2011 [we'll] have mobile broadband in every notebook that ships out of the factory."

Vodafone is one UK network that has already publicly welcomed Gobi's birth. "The Gobi platform is a significant step forward, providing greater accessibility to data services for our customers on the move," said Oliver Mauss, Vodafone's Global Director of Business Marketing.