Orange at the weekend launched a new mobile broadband package, which includes a free dongle and a discounted ultraportable Asus laptop, as more people eschew their fixed-line internet connection and opt for the flexibility of mobile broadband.
Priced at £25 per month, users will receive a Orange 'Internet Everywhere' mobile broadband tariff that offers a data allowance of 3GB and 100 texts, plus a free Orange dongle offering connection speeds of up to 1.8Mbits/s.
They will also receive an Eee PC 900 16GB laptop that weights just 0.99 kgs and has a 8.9" screen. It comes with an Intel 900MHz Celeron M 353 processor, a 16GB SSD, 1,024MB of RAM, is wireless enabled, and runs Windows XP.
The downside of the deal is that the contract is for 24 months, during which time mobile broadband prices could drop significantly.
Offering a laptop with a broadband package is not a new strategy in the UK, with the Carphone Warehouse offering a range of mobile broadband price plans from other operators, each with a laptop. For example, it offers a similarly price deal (also with Orange) which comes with a 10.2" webbook.
Carphone also offers more expensive mobile broadband plans with a laptop from T-Mobile and 3 UK. And just to confuse matters further, some individual operators also offer their own mobile broadband plan that includes a laptop.
The inclusion of a laptop is to appeal to users wishing to obtain all the equipment in one go to use mobile broadband. Last week, an Ofcom report suggested that sales of mobile broadband dongles had hit more than 133,000 in June. The report said that sales of the USB 3G broadband modems grew by an average of 18 percent each month from February 2008.
A mobile broadband package, without a laptop, normally costs in the region of £15 per month in the UK. Over a two year period this would equate to £360. The Orange package meanwhile would cost a total of £600 over two years.
The ASUS Eee PC 900 16G running Windows XP retails for £299 in the UK. This means that with the Orange package, users will pay £240 for the Eee laptop, translating to a saving of approximately £60 off the usual retail price.
"This launch is just the start, over time we will be expanding our offering even further with more suppliers who are at the forefront of laptop technology," said Francois Mahieu, Director of Devices, Orange UK.
Orange said it would evolve its offering over time to include fixed line broadband and an increased laptop range.
The Orange package is available through Orange shops, online and via its telesales operation.