A growing trend among phone networks is to start offering netbooks and other low-cost laptops free to customers of their mobile broadband services. What happens, though, if the contract owner stops paying up? They lose kit worth hundreds of pounds that’s still in fully working order.
As a result, LM Ericsson AB, a Swedish company that produces laptop modems, has added a feature to its hardware that can remotely ‘kill’ a laptop, rending it useless. If carriers desire, then they can stop a customer who hasn’t paid up from using his or her machine.
It could also be used to secure lost or stolen machines – locking them down remotely. It’s a nice idea, but I’d be concerned about the risk of these devices malfunctioning, stopping legitimate customers from accessing services that they’ve paid for.