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3G Via USB Trumps PC Card And Embedded

It seems as if the 3G wireless card vendors (Novatel Wireless and Sierra
Wireless, in particular)
issue new product announcements and carrier deals
on almost a weekly basis, but it's not all marketing hoopla. The product
life cycles of these access products can be less than a year. A quick
run-down of the acronyms for GSM-based cellular data technologies: GPRS,
EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA, and HSPA and CDMA technologies: IS-95B, CDMA-1xRTT, EV-DO

Rev. 0, EV-DO Rev. A., EV-DO Rev. B confirm that change has been the norm.
Combine that with carrier and partner wins and their names appear almost
continuously on the wire.

Much has been made of laptops embedded with 3G -- all of the major laptop
manufacturers have announced deals with carriers and hardware suppliers.
Novatel President Brad Weinert says that although their embedded platform is
very strong, seeing about 10% growth quarter over quarter, there's no hockey
stick curve. According to Weinert, about 10% of enterprise laptops have
embedded 3G cards, but only a little over half of them have a service

Embedding the access device makes it difficult to lose, break, or get
stolen. So it was surprising for me to hear that USB is Novatel's most
popular platform.
According to Novatel it offers a level of portability and
flexibility attractive to end users. It works well in a modem pools where a
few 3G devices are shared among a larger group. Just as importantly, the
carrier's sales force prefers USB because it's an interface that their
customers more easily understand. Even with desktops, the vast majority of
PC users prefer USB even though PCI to PCMCIA controller cards exist as it
doesn't require cracking open the case.

Unlike unchanging wired Ethernet jack found on almost all laptops, it
appears that radio access technology vendors for Wi-Fi, 3G, and soon WiMAX,
will continue to challenge IT departments to manage both the distribution,
software maintenance, and costs for a long time to come. In the meantime,
it appears that external access module such as USB offers organizations the
flexibility to upgrade their hardware as carriers rev their access
technology to yet even faster speeds every year.

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