Laptop makers and GSM Association team on Mobile Broadband branding plan

Laptops with built-in WWAN modems aren't anything new, but there's a hodgepodge of hardware and services available -- a situation the GSM Association is trying to simplify with the new Mobile Broadband standardization initiative. Sure, it's mostly an excuse to get another sticker on your gear, but companies like Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo, ASUS, Toshiba, Qualcomm and a bunch of carriers are on board to ensure that Mobile Broadband-certified machines will be ready and able to connect in some 91 countries around the world -- and what's more, they're committed to spending a cool billion dollars in the next year promoting MB as a "compelling alternative" to WiFi and WiMAX. That should be an interesting dilemma for the carriers that also run hotspot networks, but we've got a feeling everyone's happy as long as the sub fees keep rolling in.