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AT&T Plans National Rollout Of Subsidized 3G Netbooks

Dallas — AT&T will expand its selection of subsidized 3G-embedded netbooks during the summer and offer them nationwide through its company-owned stores and following what it called successful trials in select AT&T stores in Atlanta and Philadelphia.

The wireless carrier, which didn’t announce netbook or service-plan pricing, called wireless-embedded netbooks “a natural extension of AT&T’s product lineup.”

The announcement follows the May 17 launch of a subsidized HP Mini 1151NR netbook by Verizon Wireless at $199.99 after $50 rebate with two-year contract and a wireless-data plan starting at $39.99. The netbook is available through and Verizon Wireless-owned Communications Stores.

In April, AT&T launched the Atlanta and Philadelphia trials, where subsidized $49 netbooks were bundled with cellular-data service, AT&T Wi-Fi hot spot service and landline broadband service. The netbook price went to $99 for a service bundle without landline broadband service. LG, HP, and Acer netbooks were part of the trials.

Before the trials, AT&T also began subsidizing its netbook prices through RadioShack.

For the rollout through its 2,200 company-owned stores, AT&T will offer an expanded netbook selection that includes Acer, Dell and Lenovo devices.

“It’s clear there’s a demand for mini laptops [netbooks],” said David Christopher, chief marketing officer for AT&T mobility and consumer markets. “Our customers in the Atlanta and Philadelphia markets have responded well and the response isn’t limited to a specific demographic.” AT&T found interest by tweens, teens, young adults, moms on the go and small business owners, he contended. “Consumers and small business customers really seem to be attracted to the convenience and portability of this connected device.”

Netbooks are lightweight laptops designed mainly to surf the Internet, send and receive email, manage key contacts and appointments, review and edit business documents, update social networking sites updated and manage such digital files as photos and music, AT&T said.