The 3G Stick on the Way Into the Notebook

No-more-3g-stick When you walk through any town in Germany and many other countries these days and have a look at what's advertised in mobile phone stores, it's usually phones (naturally) and notebooks or netbooks with a 3G USB dongle for a reduced price. Some stores have now started to differentiate a bit and now advertise net-/notebooks with built in 3G connectivity. For most people it makes much more sense to have the 3G card inside, it just takes less space and you can't forget to take the dongle with you. But there are also some major disadvantages.

  • A 3G USB dongle can be used with several computers and at least for me that counts for something.
  • Also, it's easy to exchange the SIM card, which I do a lot when traveling. I expect, though, that most people won't care about this one.
  • And then there's reception. In most parts of Europe, UMTS is still only on 2.1 GHz except for a few places with 900 MHz coverage. In other words, in-house is far from optimal in many places. So every now and then I am very happy about a USB stick solution that I can extend with a 2-3m USB extension cable and hang over a lamp or to place the 3G stick close to a window for better coverage and faster speeds.
  • And then the stick can be used as the receiver for a 3G/Wifi bridge such as this one. Again, most people don't care but I like it a lot. When I travel alone, the stick is in the PC but then it's great to be able to share the connectivity when the need arises.

So do you think 3G USB sticks will mostly be integrated into netbooks and notebooks over the next couple of years or will the majority of network operators and users prefer an external solution?

5 thoughts on “The 3G Stick on the Way Into the Notebook”

  1. I hope more notebooks get 3G built in, a lot of that has to do with Intel’s decision on including the hardware inside their notebook chipsets. Me thinks that’s what the deal between them and Nokia is all about.

    That being said, most notebooks today with build in 3G have a SIM card slot under the battery. No big deal if you never leave your country, but what if you swap often? The only notebook (actually netbook in this case) to have a hot swappable SIM slot is the Nokia Booklet 3G.

    I remember having a PCMCIA WiFi card in my laptop, and I do not miss it at all. I never had a dongle, and I hope I never will. Straight to internal for me baby!

  2. For me the direction is ckear. We will see development of the mifi / 3g wifi router as an internet set-top-box. The units will move to free as gateways to video, application and other services. As processing power increases we will probably see hdmi out and 10 foot user interfaces with gaming and browsers. 5 years is my estimate. Most carriers are investing in media service offerings. These units are perfect way to deliver them.

  3. Internal is convenient, but Martin’s reasons are compelling at the moment, especially being able to transfer easily between computers and finding the best reception by extending the USB cable.

  4. Allthough I like the idea of integrated 3G and so both, my laptop and my netbook, have it built-in, I’m using my USB-modem and my Huawei D100 (3G/WiFi-router) more often.
    As my Asus V2je laptop has it’s SIM card slot below the memory module, which again is covered by a screwed lid, it’s more than inconvenient to swap SIMs. That’s easier with my Eee PC 901 GO, which hides the SIM card below the battery, but besides those advantages of external 3G-modems, which Martin mentioned, I try to avoid prolonged radiation near my body, allthough I’m really not paranoid about radiation. Further placing the 3G terminal on a window sill may also save energy due to the lower tx level (which of course will be drained again if a 3G-router is being used).
    I think the best compromise would be a WiFi-hotspot being integrated in our phones, which actually is already available on some phones through JoikuSpot and other applications, but the power consumption and the impact on the battery wear are inacceptable with today’s solution. So what we need is optimized phones with long battery-life in hotspot mode, deep software integration and a “wired mode”, where the phone can be connected to the computer by USB, which will not only provide data communication but also power.
    I wonder what will happen if LTE comes without SIM cards – will operators allow us to register multiple devices on the same account and tariff? Will we be charged for extra devices using the same tariff plan?

  5. I personnally think that it is more practical as an end-user to have it built-in assuming that of course the coverage is good enough. Both solutions will co-exist within some time. But in the long run, I would bet that the built-in solution will dominate overall if we see the development of femtocells that will be bring good indoor coverage.

Comments are closed.