updated 10/24/2007 1:52:59 PM ET 2007-10-24T17:52:59

Qualcomm on Wednesday launched a chip that will make it easier to build laptops compatible with the two dominant cellular broadband technologies in the United States.

Currently, business-oriented laptops are generally available with chips for either AT&T's, Verizon Wireless' or Sprint Nextel's networks. AT&T's network uses a technology called HSPA, or High-Speed Packet Access, while Sprint and Verizon Wireless use EV-DO, or Evolution-Data Optimized.

Both network technologies are also being rolled out overseas, with HSDPA being the dominant choice.

Qualcomm's new 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.

The chips may increase the choices for cellular broadband users, but those networks are competing not just with each other but with WiMax, another long-range wireless technology that promises higher data speeds on a network that's cheaper to build. Qualcomm's chip does not support WiMax.

In the U.S., Sprint is building a WiMax network, in alliance with Clearwire, which already has a network in parts of the country.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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