Lenovo has joined the race to release laptops with built-in wireless broadband technology.

The computer maker, which completed its acquisition of IBS's PC business last year, has announced plans to integrate technology to access Vodafone's wireless broadband network into upcoming models of ThinkPad notebooks, including the T60 and the X60, according to a press statement. Vodafone, based in the UK, is among the world's largest mobile telecommunications companies.

Lenovo will include technology supporting Vodafone's Vodafone 3G - a Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) network - and General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) into versions of the ThinkPad that will be available in Europe by the second quarter of 2006. The company also said it plans to integrate High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) technology, a faster version of UMTS, into laptops in the future, but did not specify a time frame.

Lenovo is joining Dell as the only two hardware vendors so far who have committed to building technology for supporting HSDPA networks into notebook computers. Dell also has tapped Vodafone as a partner in its plans to introduce HSDPA-enabled laptops in the second quarter.

HSDPA, which is said to be up to four times faster than current 3G wireless technology, is in the early stages of rollout by various carriers. Vodafone plans to have HSDPA networks up and running in Europe and Asia by mid-year.

According to Lenovo, its ThinkVantage Access Connections 4.1 technology will help users of the wireless broadband-enabled ThinkPads set up and automatically switch from whichever high-speed wireless network is available. Access Connections 4.1 supports peer-to-peer, wired, wireless local area network and wide area network connectivity.