Sierra Wireless is to provide embedded wide-area wireless modules to a new Intel ultra mobile PC (UMPC) platform that will enable devices to hook up to a 3G network.

Until now, UMPCs from most companies, including Samsung, have included two wireless functions, WLAN for wireless Internet connections in a home, office, or other location near a WiFi hot spot, and Bluetooth. Few other UMPCs, save Sony's Vaio VGN-UX50, which offers Cingular EDGE (Enhanced Data GSM Environment) WAN capabilities, provide a way to connect to the Internet away from civilisation.

The wireless modules from Sierra, will allow users to remain connected far out in the field, and lead to the development of many innovative, new UMPC devices, the company said.

Intel plans to make its ultra mobile PC chip kit available in the first half of next year, the company said at the Intel Developer Forum. The company said the microprocessors in the platform will consume just half the power of ones used in current UMPCs, and will be 25 percent smaller. The chip kit is designed to allow developers to make smaller, cooler running UMPCs with longer battery life and new possible uses, Intel said.

The UMPC, code-named Origami earlier this year, is a new breed of handheld device promoted by Microsoft and Intel, aimed at users requiring more PC-like functions and larger screens in a carry-around device. It falls somewhere between a tablet PC and a PDA in size, and runs on the Windows XP Tablet Edition OS.

One of the first such devices was viewed by users at the Cebit electronics show in Germany early this year, Samsung's Q1. The device was running on a 900MHz Intel Celeron microprocessor and boasted 500M bytes of RAM.