Beleagered chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. launched its new "Gobi" chip today that will make it easier to build laptops compatible with the two dominant cellular broadband technologies in the United States, HSPA and EV-DO. Currently, business-oriented laptops are generally available with chips for either AT&T Inc.'s, Verizon Wireless' or Sprint Nextel Corp.'s networks. AT&T's network uses HSPA, or High-Speed Packet Access, while Sprint and Verizon Wireless use EV-DO, or Evolution-Data Optimized. Although both network technologies are also being rolled out overseas, HSDPA, a subset of HSPA, is the dominant choice abroad.
The Gobi chip can connect to either type of network, which should make it easier for laptop users to shop around for the carrier that has the best coverage and prices in their area. The chips are available immediately, and Qualcomm expects them to appear in laptops in the second quarter of next year.