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?