Sixteen of the world’s top wireless firms, PC makers and chipset manufacturers are joining forces on a $1 billion initiative that would produce and market laptop notebooks that are mobile broadband “ready” and that would be readily identifiable to consumers through a special logo. The aptly-named Mobile Broadband Initiative was developed under the auspices of the GSM Association (GSMA) and includes international mobile operators T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange, Telefonica Europe, Telecom Italia, TeliaSonera and 3Group, PC makers Dell, Toshiba and Lenovo, software giant Microsoft, chip maker Qualcomm, and handset producer Ericsson. Members of the group would initially back the installation of High Speed Downlink Packet Access technology, and, eventually, Long Term Evolution technology in a range of notebook PCs that would enable consumers to connect wirelessly to the web in 91 countries without the use of external modems. Laptops bearing the group’s logo would support transmission speeds of at least 3.6M bps on paper and at least 1M bps in real-world capacity. According to a Pyramid Research study commissioned by GSMA and Microsoft, global demand for such notebooks is expected to exceed $50 billion this year, and a spokesman for the initiative confirmed that several hundred thousand “ready-to-run” mobile broadband notebooks carrying the group’s logo would appear on store shelves in time for the 2008 holiday season. For the future, participants believe that the initiative could extend wireless Internet connectivity to other products, such as MP3 players and cars.