3G cellular Internet might shed a bit of it's complexity in 2009 with the arrival of Qualcomms GOBI modem module. It combines incompatible 3G data communication standards (HSPA, EVDO) into one hardware solution.
While WiMAX adapters (USB / PCMCIA) are being rolled out and LTE is gaining momentum, the Gobi modem module might ease some of the 3G incompatibility pain in the meanwhile.
For those who travel with laptops between Europe/Asia (HSPA) and US/Australia (EVDO), the embedded GOBI module in new laptops is an opportunity to get rid of various modem cards to be able to connect to the Internet using 3G cellular networks. Several A-brand laptop manufacturers already certified the use of an embedded version of the GOBI modem.
The additional build in GPS receiver sounds like a bit of a gadget. However there's a similarity between 3G and GPS, both do not perform that well indoors. In fact GPS doesn't function at all indoors. Basically this makes the whole an outdoor package for those who travel overland by car, train and bus. Besides that indoors there's usually WiFi based Internet which is not only faster, but also cheaper.
It's a first step to a smoother 3G Internet experience for those who travel a lot and depend on high-speed Internet. Integrated GOBI modems are only for the few in 2009 / 2010, the GOBI modem module alone will not make the real difference. There's a big change ahead in marketing 3G connectivity.
Here are 2 examples of 3G prepaid Internet access in the Euro zone:
And a nifty solution to share a 3G internet connection through WIFI:
The MIFI - a pocket WIFI router with G3 modem.
A big obstacle of 3G (and previously 2G) is cost control. The usual business model of 3G connectivity by cellular networks is to rake in yearly 3G subscriptions together with a monthly bandwidth limit.
Not only the costs/month are high (even when 3G is not used), also going over the monthly bandwidth limit is an extremely costly affair. Usually happening in complete silence - till the next 3G bill arrived.
High-speed 3G Internet is equivalent to higher responsiveness so more can be done in terms of uploads/downloads - the bandwidth limit doesn't fit the equation - it's old school narrow-band thinking. It's like being punished for using the main characteristic of the service which is connection speed.
Solutions already seen in managing the bandwidth limit or "fair-use" policies is switching down the speed when the monthly bandwidth limit is reached - without extra costs.
So most likely the following is going to change in 2010:
1) Pay as you go / Prepaid 3G - This trend already started in 2009.
2) Removal of the bandwidth limit - mostly likely combined in Pay-as-you-Go.
3) Cross border data roaming agreements - probably requiring another EU resolution in the Euro zone.
This together with the GOBI modem module will make 3G Internet connectivity for (business) travelers less technically complex and less painful for the wallet. In all the whole deal requires a big change to get it working the right way.
For Middle-East and (west)-Asian regions the change will most likely be slower. 3G requires the use of new cellular hardware for providers and end-users - this while conventional 2 - 2.5G is still being rolled out.
Upto that time, countries like Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh might switch to the Intel solution called WiMAX. Local initiatives (Iran, Nepal) were already there in 2007.
Qualcomms GOBI modem can be found at the