AT&T Predicts End of Tablets without WWAN Support

End of Wi-Fi Only Tablets Is Looming - AT&T

by Anton Shilov
05/10/2012 | 12:43 PM

The era of always on/always connected Internet devices dictates one simple thing: the devices should be always connected everywhere, not just where Wi-Fi is nearby. As a result, media tablets without support of wide wireless area network (WWAN) seem to be a little incomplete. But the end of such slates is near, according to AT&T, which believes that tablets should always come with built-in 3G or 4G.


"All devices should have all capabilities built in from the beginning. One reason that has not become a reality is that the additional hardware has been too expensive in the past, the ecosystem was a little out of balance," said Glenn Lurie, president of emerging devices at AT&T, in an interview with Computerworld at CTIA Wireless.

The cost of 3G HSPA+ modem is around $30 to device makers, whereas 4G/LTE modem cost from $60 to $70. As the cost of modems declines, it will not make sense for media tablet makers not to integrate them into their products and offer a true freedom for the end-users. Moreover, with modems inside every tablet, operators will get more interested in selling them and more software makers will start making programs that use Internet connectivity.

Although modems are relatively affordable, Apple, the dominant supplier of media tablets in the world, adds $130 for the cost of a 3G or 4G/LTE modem to iPad 2 of the iPad third-gen slates compared to Wi-Fi-only models. Other manufacturers add around $50 for WWAN support, according to Mr. Lurie.

Not surprising that according to Bob O'Donnell, an analyst with IDC, over a half of Apple iPad tablets sold today only come with Wi-Fi connectivity. The market observer believes that carriers should offer data plans for multiple devices, which should catalyze people to get gadgets with support for 3G, 4G and other types of connectivity.