Netbook 'Kill Pill' Nukes Deadbeats


Telecom companies like Verizon Wireless (VZ) will increasingly sell subsidized netbook PCs for as little as $99 when bought together with a multi-year 3G data plan.

But if those customers turn out to be deadbeats and don’t pay their monthly bills, a “kill pill” built into 3G modems built by Swedish firm Ericsson might allow the carriers to completely disable the machine until the account is paid up.

Laptop makers with Ericsson modems include some big players like LG, Dell (DELL), Toshiba, and Lenovo, according to the AP.

Seems like a smart play to us, assuming it can’t be easily circumvented. Subsidizing netbooks — which, unlike a mobile phone, have plenty of utility without a wireless connection — is an increased risk for carriers. The “kill pill” should help safeguard against people who disappear with subsidized netbooks and don’t pay their Internet bill.

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