Dell and Notebook Mobile Broadband

Over the last several years in the computer industry, notebooks have become increasingly popular compared to desktops for a couple of primary reasons: portability and connectivity. In terms of our notebook offerings, we continue to look for ways to make it easier for our customers to connect. Many of you are probably already running a wireless network at home based on Wi-Fi or 802.11 wireless technology. Mobile broadband is a logical evolution with much potential. Basically, it is broadband access through the same cellular network you use when making a mobile phone call. With this kind of service, you can connect any place you have a cell phone signal.

Although cellular data access has been available from service providers for some time, it has increased in popularity over the last 8-10 months—driven by improvements in mobile broadband technology and broader coverage deployments by the cellular providers. While these developments have spurred demand for this type of technology, we have struggled with how to provide our customers with a clear understanding of how this changing technology impacts their notebook purchase decision. As a result, we have had situations where customers have purchased notebooks that are incompatible with many of the peripheral devices traditionally used to connect to cellular networks.

In the early 90s, most notebooks contained PCMCIA card slots (now called PC Card slots), and until earlier this year, most of our notebooks could connect to cellular networks via a PC card. As the industry began shifting to next-generation ExpressCards, we made the decision to replace the PC card slot on many of our newer consumer notebook models with the newer ExpressCard slot—based on line-of-sight expectations that service providers and card manufacturers would have the new cellular data ExpressCards available in time for the launch of our new notebooks.

As with any technology transitions, however, there is always a certain amount of risk that the various industry participants will not be in perfect alignment on product introductions. Unfortunately, it became clear earlier this year that the delivery estimates for the ExpressCards would be later than anticipated, leaving our customers without cellular data options on our newer models – and leading to confusion among our customers about when a solution would be available. We have updated our website with clearer messaging on the slot issue during the purchase process, and we have given our phone reps more training on how explain the differences in technology and available options, but we continue to have some confusion due to nature of the topic. The key point is that older generation cellular PC cards cannot be used in any of our newer notebook platforms that include an ExpressCard slot. We’ll continue to make sure that we get that message out as clearly as possible.

The good news is that we recently launched the Dell Wireless 5700 EVDO ExpressCard, which is compatible with the Verizon Wireless BroadbandAccess network. This ExpressCard is available for purchase with all new notebooks, and is also available for purchase separately on our Software and Peripherals site. Because of the high demand for this card, fulfiling orders has been a challenge—but we’re working to ship them out as quickly as we can get them. We are also targeting an HSDPA version of the ExpressCard (which will be compatible with other cellular services) in the coming weeks.

In addition, we have recently started shipping several notebook models that feature “built-in” mobile broadband, with no external PC Card or ExpressCards required. Models supporting the built-in functionality include the XPS M1210, Latitude D420, Latitude D620, Latitude D820, and Dell Precision M65. More information on Dell’s mobile broadband products and carrier partnerships can be found at

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14 thoughts on “Dell and Notebook Mobile Broadband

  1. Will Dell or your partners work to provide support for wireless broadband for the Linux operating system?  Though small compared to the Windows market, I’m seeing laptop Linux users being an audience that is very likely to be on the frontier for new mobile technology and have had many requests for support for existing PC Card Broadband offerings for SLED 10 already.

  2. Jim, will either of the wireless internet solutions be available in regions other than the US? Customers in Australia are screaming out for wireless broadband and Dell is currently unable to fulfil their needs. Even a stop-gap measure like a PCMCIA-USB adaptor would help, so they can use existing solutions from the mobile suppliers.

    Ben Stephens
    Dell Kiosk Chermside, QLD

  3. I echo Ben’s statement for rest of Asia. Seems like there is no tie up to local telco providers with 3G offering. It will be a big miss of opportunity.

  4. Ben and Dave: Thanks for your comments.  I talked to some folks on our wireless team, and here’s what I can tell you.  Within the next few weeks, we’ll be expanding our mobile broadband offering in European countries (Ireland, Germany, France and U.K.). Unfortunately, we don’t have any near-term plans to share regarding mobile broadband in Asia and Australia. That said, those regions are a priority to us.

  5. I have a couple of questions about regarding EVDO and a Dell 5700 ExpressCard.

    What is the long term forecast for EVDO? Are there any new technologies in development that could justify delaying the purchase any Wireless Broadband ExpressCard? Are there any possibilities the price of a Dell 5700 EVDO ExpressCard will be receding in the foreseeable future?

  6. Jim: My apologies… had gotten an answer a while ago and never posted a response. Unfortunately, I can’t comment on EVDO enhancements.  I can say that we will continue to monitor new developments so we can offer a broad range of mobile broadband options.

  7. What’s going on with your website  I can’t click on any links and I can’t log into my account.  This has been going on since Sunday.  I have three computers to order and I can not do so.

  8. Ron: My apologies for the delay in response. Are you still having problems accessing To my knowledge, there haven’t been any outages recently, but wanted to make sure you’re now able to access.

  9. What i want to know is whats dell going to do abouth the notebooks that were sold with out even telling the new owners abouth the card to start with that still have to pay for the severice they cant even used in the midlle of there contranct with there carrier for there severice and they dont even have the cards eather to replace the pc cards with the express cards slots that came with the new note books that they yet to recived eather. i sir have been waithing and paying for over nine months now and i have two notebooks!!!!. my severice is all most up and i been paying i cant even used. please respond

  10. Can I get an update please on the m1210 support for Broadband in Australia…

     I have the card in the unit. Just after drivers…

    Are there plans for Australia support ?



  11. I have just received my new Dell 1420 notebook and saw that it does not have a network card port, and  I did not order the AT&T built-in cellular broadband option when I customized my order.  Is there any way to add that broadband option (capability) now that I already have my new notebook?  Thank You R/Jack

  12. hey everyone,i bought an Inspiron 1520 last year.Been thinkin of gettin a mobile broadband connection.

    Does anyone know if my laptop has an inbuilt USB modem or PC data card….or do i have to get one?..i have an Express Card slot on my machine


  13. I recently purchased an XPS M1330 with a sprint mobile broadband card (built-in)- if I wanted to move to Verizon, do I need to replace the internal card with a Verizon card or can the Sprint 5720 EVDO card be reconfigured?

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