HP has reportedly worked out an arrangement with Japan Communications (JCI) to sell contract-free portable 3G-packing PCs that are able to tap Japan's cellular networks. Systems available with the feature will include laptops, netbooks, and touchscreen tablets, and will ship with 100 minutes of airtime. Beyond that, the devices will follow a pay-as-you-go wireless model.

The thing is, under the agreement HP will be able to decide which devices can connect to the network - something that operators usually dictate. Even more, HP will collect a handsome cut of the mobile data revenue. Technically speaking, HP will essentially become a mobile operator - a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Naturally, this poses a threat to big players in Japan's wireless industry.

As the cherry on top, HP's 3G-capable netbooks are expected to start at a mere $50 to $100 - again, without a contract. For the unfamiliar, users in the US pay about that much for subsidized WWAN netbooks coupled with a 2-year contract.