Seamless cellular connectivity: A new freedom for mobile workers
Through a client PC refresh, organizations can spark collaboration, creativity and competitiveness by capitalizing on advances in hardware and software technology. Updated clients running the latest OS deliver the high performance and robust security needed to help keep workers productive.

At the same time, client refreshes provide a prime opportunity to incorporate technology that raises the bar for an increasingly mobile workforce. Employees expect their devices, whether smartphone, laptop or tablet, to be connected to the internet wherever they are — and for good reason. More than half of U.S. employees work away from the office, maintaining productivity on the road because they can still connect to important enterprise applications.1

However, delivering that added on-the-go productivity may come at a significant expense. From road warriors to occasional travelers to field-based workers in harsh environments, mobile employees incur substantial expenses for mobile broadband data subscriptions, including international roaming, as well as hourly, daily or monthly WiFi passes at multiple venues — all at different rates.

To help organizations deliver cost-effective, ubiquitous connectivity, Dell has integrated Qualcomm® Gobi 4G LTE technology into the latest Dell Latitude laptops, Dell Precision workstations and Dell Venue Pro tablets.2 Using the same wireless chipset that is built into leading smartphones and other wireless devices, Gobi modems provide fast mobile broadband access on 3G and 4G LTE networks around the world.

Moving beyond WiFi

Built-in cellular connectivity represents the next step in the evolution of wireless networking for laptops and tablets. For years, embedded WiFi has been the default configuration to enable mobile connectivity. Nevertheless, WiFi access away from the office and home generally adds cost and complexity while introducing security risks for enterprise deployments. (For more information, see the sidebar, “Spotlight on security.”)

Costs can be prohibitive among frequent business travelers, who often expense monthly fees for WiFi access. Given the number of networks mobile employees may access to stay connected to critical enterprise information, WiFi charges can end up being more costly than a month of 3G/4G service.

Even free WiFi comes at a cost. Many employees experience speeds far below those of standard high-speed connections found in the workplace — typically only 500 Kbps to 1 Mbps, resulting in a suboptimal experience for mobile workers. These free WiFi data speeds don’t make the grade for workers running bandwidth-intensive applications, leading to a poor user experience and low productivity.

As an alternative to searching for the nearest WiFi hotspot, many organizations provide employees with external cellular modems — for example, USB wireless adapters or mobile routers — or smartphone tethering. Although these approaches get the job done, tracking and monitoring the underlying mobility cost is difficult, since these devices and data plans can be shared easily with non-employees outside the work environment. There is no way to distinguish between corporate-liable and personal-liable internet costs.

Moreover, employees may notice slow response times when using external solutions, which often increase the latency of the connection. USB adapters and mobile routers are also susceptible to loss or theft, creating additional churn and manageability costs. In addition, smartphone tethering requires an often-cumbersome configuration process, and it drains the battery life of the phone acting as a mobile hotspot.


Spotlight on security

To avoid risk and help ensure compliance, organizations must protect client devices and safeguard data as it moves from device to device. Dell offers multiple Dell Data Protection (DDP) solutions for comprehensive encryption, advanced authentication and leading-edge malware prevention to help secure laptops and tablets.

Qualcomm Gobi 4G LTE technology integrated into select Dell laptops and tablets also helps prevent data from being compromised. Because WiFi runs on unlicensed radio-frequency spectrum, it is vulnerable to hacking techniques such as IP spoofing and rogue access points. Unlike WiFi, 4G LTE runs on licensed spectrum, which requires a mobile provider to obtain a license for broadcasting on those frequencies. In addition, 4G LTE networks enable secure connections by incorporating 128-bit encryption.

GPS support built into the Gobi modem allows IT to stay on top of security through asset tracking and remote management functionality. If a laptop or tablet is lost or stolen, IT can enable a “find my device” capability using third-party software. Or, if necessary, IT can wipe data from the device remotely.

Staying connected anywhere, anytime

By deploying laptops and tablets with embedded cellular connectivity, IT managers can take advantage of significant performance, cost and flexibility benefits. Studies have shown an increase of 19 to 36 percent in radio-frequency performance by integrating the modem into the laptop itself, compared to external modems.3

Such tight integration also helps reduce misuse, theft and loss associated with external modems. Plus, built-in mobile connectivity enables an easy, efficient and consistent user experience by avoiding the multiple registrations and activations required for WiFi access, as well as the need to remain within the limited coverage range of a WiFi hotspot.

The Qualcomm Gobi modems embedded in select Dell laptop and tablet models support numerous wireless standards, such as GSM/UMTS/HSPA+, CDMA/EVDO, DC-HSPA+ and 4G LTE, with backward compatibility to legacy 2G/3G networks. Moreover, support for multiple wireless standards in one chipset enables a single stock-keeping unit (SKU) solution that works across multiple carriers and regions worldwide. Enterprise users can procure a laptop or tablet with built-in 3G/4G connectivity and then configure the mobile broadband service based on price and coverage in their area, without needing to change modem hardware as they travel.

This single-SKU device solution helps reduce support and qualification costs because IT managers no longer must manage region-specific configurations locked into one carrier or technology. Moreover, 4G LTE networks are designed to deliver reduced latency and data speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G,4 enabling fast response time, rapid downloads and high quality of service for streaming video and audio.

The latest flexible data plans are designed to make built-in mobile connectivity more accessible, efficient and cost-effective than before. Contract-free, pay-as-you-go plans provide temporary access to 3G/4G networks, allowing employees to connect only when needed. Shared data plans let organizations pay for a single pool of data and share it across multiple smartphones, tablets and laptops. Sponsored data plans enable organizations to segment internet traffic to specific enterprise sites or apps, creating a customized internet connection for their employees. Data charges related to eligible use are billed directly to the sponsoring company instead of the user.

Enhancing productivity on the go

To best serve a mobile workforce, IT departments are looking to create versatile, user-focused data sharing and collaboration models. Today’s flexible data plans open up opportunities for organizations to deploy 4G LTE broadly across their workforces, taking advantage of the higher data rates and lower latency that 4G LTE is designed to offer, compared to 3G.

As well, Dell clients embedded with Gobi 4G LTE technology span a variety of needs and budgets to support employees on the move. For example, Dell Venue Pro tablets deliver exceptional flexibility by combining the power of an Ultrabook system, the functionality of a desktop and the portability of a tablet. The Dell Latitude 7000 Series offers outstanding mobility in a sleek, Ultrabook form factor for employees who need business-class security, management and performance. And for those working in harsh conditions, Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme and Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme laptops are designed to operate in extreme environmental conditions where connectivity is crucial.

Because installation of additional software is not needed, Dell clients with an embedded Qualcomm Gobi modem are ready right out of the box to be activated for internet access virtually anywhere, anytime.5 Getting ready to connect is easy. End users can insert an already-activated LTE SIM card from a preferred carrier into the Dell client, or they can activate a new service on the SIM card preinstalled in the client.

The multimode Gobi technology provides users with unprecedented flexibility in choosing preferred carriers and data plans. These benefits make a client refresh that incorporates built-in 4G LTE capability a remarkably appealing way to heighten workforce productivity.

Monte Giles is director of product management for embedded wireless connectivity products within Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT).

Kylee Stephens is the product messaging and outbound marketing manager for the complete line of Dell Latitude business-class laptops within the Dell Client Solutions organization.

Learn more

Dell 4G LTE mobile broadband laptops and tablets:

Dell Latitude laptops:

Dell Venue tablets:

Download a PDF version of this article here.

1 “Qualcomm Gobi Enterprise Study,” QCT Strategy market research, July 2013.

2 Dell models that support Gobi 4G LTE technology include Latitude 12 7000 Series, Latitude 14 7000 Series, Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme and Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme laptops; Dell Precision M4800 and Dell Precision M6800 workstations; and Venue 11 Pro tablet. Mobile broadband capabilities are not available in all countries for all models.

3 Comparative field performance benchmarking, P3 Communications GmbH, September 2009.

4 Ten-times faster 4G LTE claim compares 4G LTE download speeds to industry average 3G download speeds.

5 Dependent on carrier operator and 3G/4G LTE network availability.

Dell, Dell Precision, Latitude and Venue Pro are trademarks of Dell Inc.