Notebooks Still Don’t have 3G Modules

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…


3 thoughts on “Notebooks Still Don’t have 3G Modules”

  1. A problem with tethering may seen In some European countries. I have heard that tethering may not be used in Italy due to some network policies. I can’t tell, what is the situation in other countries exept of Poland where tethering is possible. Maybe you have some more information on that matter?

  2. I actually think the answer deals with how devices are FCC certified. As far as I’m aware, if you want to make a product that’s cellular enabled, you need to send it to the FCC for certification. When things are WiFi certified … forget it, no need, unlicensed spectrum! 🙂

  3. Hi Stefan,

    ah, interesting, the FCC, I didnt think of them. You are right, they might have something to do with it in the US. But in Europe, an FCC like approval was abandoned already over 10 years ago. So while a type approval process might be in the way there its definitely not an obstacle over here.


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