About three to four years ago, 3G sticks for notebooks and netbooks started to take off and I assumed at the time that pretty quickly they would move inside the devices as mini-PCI adapters and use internal antennas wrapped around the display which would make reception even better. But to my surprise this hasn't really happened and few notebook are sold with a 3G card inside. Devices with antennas inside and SIM card slots waiting for a 3G card to be inserted are pretty rare as well. So what happened?
Perhaps there are several reasons for it: Notebooks for the masses go out for less than 600 euros for notebooks in many cases and less than 250 euros for netbooks. Adding a 3G card or even just antennas raise the price and make an offer less attractive compared to the competition. I wonder by how much the price would be raised!? Go to a supermarket in countries like Germany, Austria and some others and you can buy an entry level 3G USB stick for 20 to 30 euros, with a prepaid SIM card included and a couple of days or even a month of free surfing. Sure, the offer is subsidized by network operators but it's prepaid so it's unlikely a lot of money has gone into it. But USB sticks are simple, plug and play, no testing with a notebook whether it works or not like it is probably would have to be done for mini-PCI cards, etc. so I understand why it hasn't happened so far.
Another remedy might be tethering with mobile devices over WiFi which many smartphones offer today. Saves one the trouble of getting an extra SIM card and paying twice for data service, especially if only used occasionally or only lightly, e.g. during the daily commute where data intensive applications such as music and video streaming are not really an application anyway.
Yes, I know, as so often I am an exception but I would spend a few euros to get a mini-PCI 3G card for my netbook because that 3G USB dongle is just not really convenient…