Notebooks equipped with wireless wide area networking are poised to make it easier for a slew of applications, from skiers plotting their next runs at a ski centre in Whistler, British Columbia, to helping doctors manage patient care.
Those improvements will come from near-ubiquitous access to critical data provided by the first notebooks to embed WWAN hardware.
WWANs have been around for years, but using them has been generally inconvenient, due to relatively slow data ranges, high service costs and awkward hardware.
The advent of faster networks and, now, notebooks with internal WWAN hardware—Dell unveiled its WWAN-capable Latitudes, here, on March 28—improves the ease and speed with which data can be accessed or shared, paving the way for broader adoption, two senior IT managers said.
For one, "It's less clumsy," said Mark Sedgwick, manager of IT for Whistler Blackcomb Properties, in Whistler, British Columbia.
"It's also a big step forward because it's [providing network] infrastructure that we don't have to put in."
One critical application WWAN notebooks can fill for Whistler Blackcomb is updating trail conditions more quickly, Sedgwick said.
Each of its Snow Cat's onboard notebooks could be upgraded with one of Dell's WWAN-equipped notebooks and used to send in trail data continuously, speeding up the dissemination of the information both online and in areas such as lodges.
Health care centres are another area in which WWAN notebooks can help make things easier.
"It's going to be very handy to have [WWAN] included in notebooks," said Michael Haga, regional network medical director for Care Level Management, a Woodland Hills, Calif., home health care provider.
The company now uses PC Card-equipped Dell machines for some WWAN access but aims to switch to integrated WWAN systems. Providing them to physicians and health care field workers would make for easier access to patient records.
"We think this will reduce our need for tech support in the field," Haga said.
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