Another GPRS PC Card for mobile data launches in Europe

by Guy Kewney | posted on 19 February 2003

News - Another GPRS PC Card for mobile data launches in Europe
By Guy Kewney Posted on 19/02/2003 at 15:58
Unlikely though it may seem, America - last to join the GPRS club - has produced a rather nice little plug-in card for mobile phone subscribers - and it promises to be better in Europe, than it was over the Atlantic, because of regulatory issues.

Guy Kewney

<1/> Ready to install in our workhorse ThinkPad X22

Sierra Wireless sells a wide range of its AirCard range of PC Cards; we tried one out during Cannes 3GSM show.

As an alternative to the Nokia Cellular Cardphone range, it is probably going to be cheaper; but it lacks some features that the Nokia has - specifically, the ability to function as a cellphone.

That, said the company, is not necessarily going to be a drawback when the product ships; American PC card phones have to have their voice capabilities disabled by law in some states "because of requirements for a location-dependent feature so that police can track the user" - but this won't be needed in Europe. Versions to work, with headsets, in PC and PocketPC devices are being readied for sale.

Performance was hard to assess realistically, because the demo was sponsored by Vodafone, and by common consensus here in Cannes, Vodafone locally has had problems with its GPRS servvice during the show. Orange users were not so badly affected; but we were told by many exhibitors, that the data drop-outs we experienced were typical of the experience of those with Vodafone SIM cards.

In use, it is not broadband! - but we managed to get modem-like speeds out of a connection to the Internet.

The current version of the drivers were not ideal. We'd want to find Windows XP more reliably capable of detecting the card when it is inserted; and the stability of the system seemed to be affected too.

Hopefully, we'll be able to do a more rigorous test later in the year.

The company is also selling ruggedised versions, for permanent mounting in trucks, for logistics companies. They are pretty robust; tested during the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, they were installed in all police vehicles so that HQ could track them via a GPS device linked to the system.

Comments? Mail me at or phone 020 8809 0492 in the UK (+44) area.