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Any 4G PC/Express cards modems?

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  • Any 4G PC/Express cards modems?

    Does anyone know if there are any 4G PC/Express card modems? I would prefer one that works on Verizon because I've been using them for about 3 years but I know Verizon doesn't offer one, only USB, so if not on Verizon, I would be willing to change carriers.

    I don't understand why they think everyone wants USB, considering how slow and unreliable USB2 is. They've only recently came out with USB3 so it will be a few years for there to be enough hardware to support it. Plus, I preferred PC/Express card because I can leave it in the slot and not worry about possibly leaving/loosing a USB modem someplace if I have to plug and unplug it each time I need to use it and put it away.

  • #2
    Very very true on the 2nd point:
    Plus, I preferred PC/Express card because I can leave it in the slot and not worry about possibly leaving/loosing a USB modem someplace if I have to plug and unplug it each time I need to use it and put it away.
    This bugs me a lot too since i currently use a USB dongle which i always have to plug in and out when needed vs my old express card that was always inserted into my laptop. Guess they figure the USB slot is more common so it's more economical for OEMs to support just one device which fits all laptops, all desktops or other workstations, all routers routers & bridges etc

    Not completely true on the 1st point though:
    I don't understand why they think everyone wants USB, considering how slow and unreliable USB2 is.
    All 4G Express Card devices and in fact 3G as well currently use USB 2.0 native protocol. I.e the connectivity is through the ExpressCard slot but the connection to the system bus uses USB2.0. While this is an improvement over the older 16-bit PC Cards or 32-bit Cardbus which interfaced the system bus using the slower PCI protocol it means that current ExpressCards are really not that much different from USB dongles in performance. Notice i say currently

    True there are Express Card devices that use a much faster 1x Lane PCI Express interface to system bus, however, these are usually for external memories and not for 3G/4G Modems. ExpressCard 2.0 standard supports USB 3.0 as well as PCIE Gen2.

    Finally you are limited by the over-the-air datarate which even for 4G will never practically be above a few Mbps (vs ~480Mbps+ for USB2.0). Notice i say practically which is very different from the theoretical lab-test speeds capabilities. Typically limited by economics esp. backhaul capacity.

    In fact the one BIG problem with USB 3G modems when they first came out had to do with maximum source current available from USB slot. Since this was much lower than for PC Card or Express devices what this meant was that the power amplifier was unable to increase the output transmit power which it needed to do in areas of low received signal strength. So the solution for many of this modems was to use a USB Y-cable and hook it up to two USB slots to provide enough power to the radio chipset PA. However recent 3G chipset designs solve this issue (more efficient PA's and low power circuits). Haven't seen this problem in 4G USB WiMax modems.

    As for your original question:
    Does anyone know if there are any 4G PC/Express card modems?
    Yes they exist but the problem with Sprint/Clearwire 4G service is that they only allow activation of MAC addresses from devices they sell. So you can't just get a 3rd party modem (even if it is fully compliant with the 4G protocol they use) and activate it. Maybe this policy has recently changed but this was the case last year (2010).

    Sprint when operating under the Xohm brand using Clearwires 4G network in Maryland had an ExpressCard modem (Samsung SWC-E100). You might want to call your Sprint/Clear rep and see if they would let you activate it if you found it (and you might be able to find it on ebay for example).

    As for Verizon: They use 4G LTE and LTE as of now seems to be the clear winner in the 4G race vs. WiMax. In fact the recent announced merger of T-Mobile and AT&T if approved by regulators will really put a damper on WiMax since T-Mobile will now use LTE as well (Sprint was hoping to merge with them). So if you want to stay with VZW hang tight - I predict there will be a whole host of 4G devices in different form-factors being released in the coming months.
    KF7RCQ

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