Brightstar and Carphone Warehouse will start bundling laptops with 3’s USB dongles, after both companies agreed deals with the 3G operator last week.
Brightstar will use its partnership with TechData, while Carphone will use its stockpile of Dell laptops that it originally sourced for its own AOL proposition.
Several other distributors are also negotiating deals with laptop manufacturers or computer distributors to bring laptops to mobile phone dealers.
Hugh Symons will start offering broadband packages with contributions from its sister companies, AOL and TalkTalk, as well as other broadband providers brokered by parent company Carphone.
Dextra and Data Select are also understood to be looking at sourcing laptops.
Interest has snowballed as 3 and T-Mobile have made USB modems a central part of their business plans after seeing higher than expected consumer demand in November and December, particularly on prepay as customers with poor
credit ratings look for broadband.
Similarly, Orange is keen to boost its broadband subscriptions through the independent channel.
One distribution chief said: ‘Cashback is dead. Dealers expectations are too high. They need to embrace these changes and stop complaining that the margins aren’t as good as on mobile contracts two years ago.’
The subsidised laptop model hasn’t proven to be a hit in DSG and Carphone so far (see page 6), with the experience suggesting there is less interest in subsidised laptops as there is for free phones.
Angus Dawe, MD at Data Select, said: ‘We want to move independents into being expert practitioners of setting up data services and pre-installed products and services. There’s a real opportunity there for dealers.’