HP has announced a new contract-free mobile broadband service called DataPass for use with its 3G-enabled business laptops. Much like a prepaid cell phone, DataPass will offer the possibility of staying connected on the go without worrying about yearly contracts or set-up fees, as users only pay for the length of time needed.
The plans start at $5 for 75MB during a seven-hour period to $30 for a gigabyte over 30 days -- which is admittedly not that much for regular users but still a good deal for occasional access at places like airports or hotels, where Internet service could otherwise be expensive. Other service tiers include $10 for 150MB of data over 3 days or $20 for 450MB of data over 14 days, and HP is throwing in a 14-day free trial to lure customers into the service.
For now DataPass is only available in the U.S. through Sprint's EVDO network, but worldwide availability is reportedly being explored. The service is also available only with HP laptops like the new HP ProBook 5330m, EliteBook 2560p and EliteBook 2760p models announced today. Eventually you’ll be able to use DataPass on any HP consumer or business notebook configured with a 3G modem, according to the company.
The company made it clear it does not intend to become a telecom service provider, and that users can continue using mobile broadband services from other providers such as Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile.