5G LTE expansion card

If these oversized cards are done by making the card taller, as some have suggested, we will also need an oversized USB-C card. (Everybody has at least one of those because you need it to power and charge.) The reason is that installing only ONE oversized card would unbalance the system and keep it from sitting properly on a desk; installing one on the other side that matches its height would maintain proper balance.

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I’ve been looking for 5g cards that could replace the Intel AX210 which is just a standard M.2 card. Theoretically you could get a 5g modem in that form factor (from other laptop manufacturers) but what I’m running into issues with is finding one with onboard SIM readers. It seems that OEMs all are running their modems internally without an actual SIM reader since they move it all out to the laptop chassis to make it easier for their customers.
Something like one of these: https://adaptivemodules.com/embedded-modules/fn980m/

Should be possible, hopefully someone will make one eventually. Either that or maybe we could focus on getting an eSIM from the carriers which would work as well, but for now I’m still looking…


Can a board like this be used to add a m.2 enclosure to connect a 5G module like this?

If this is possible, I think 5g expansion card is doable.

I’ve been thinking about what it would take to hack an existing 4G M.2 card in and whether it would be possible to run the antenna through the display frame (like how it is currently installed in my Lenovo X1 Carbon gen5). As @Joseph_Conlin mentions, connecting a SIM reader would be the main challenge, I think.

I’m a big fan of a “always connected” laptop and hate dongles as they are usually poorly supported and well look bulky.

Just would like to add my support even if the expansion card is like $100 because obviously cellular modems aren’t cheap.


This has been discussed elsewhere and there’s definitely demand and potential for it https://community.frame.work/t/5g-lte-expansion-card/1606/6


Love the idea of oversized cards, since it would make room for for example multiple ports in one module that can’t fit in a regular card. I’d buy exclusively oversized cards if possible, since the more ports the better as far as I’m concerned.

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Just to add some ideas, there are these USB 3.0 cards that have an M.2 NGFF slot for a cellular modem as well as a sim slot on the board and antenna connectors: Amazon.com

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With the specific scenario of an embedded modem in an expansion card too, there’s a problem with antenna sise and it being buried in a conductive aluminum frame of the laptop chassis. Further signal problems.


I hear you - I hunted down the 4G components for my Lenovo X1 Carbon and installed them myself. I had to purchase in two parts - the Sierra AirPrime (sounds like an Amazon product) M2 card and the antenna kit.

The notable challenges here are that the X1 Carbon had an extra M2 slot and two special carve-outs in the case for the antenna modules. I don’t know of any Wifi/5g combo modules that would let you get away with a single M2 slot, but that’s worth looking into. You’re right to point out that the real challenge is the antenna - the X1 Carbon’s chassis was designed to accommodate 4G antennas.

I think the ideal approach might be an expansion card with a connector for an external antenna. No, it’s not as sleek as the X1 Carbon’s setup, but with some cable management and velcro/magnet, you could attach it to the back of the screen and it wouldn’t be too unsightly.

Also note the 4G M2 card in the picture, it’s quite a bit wider than the wifi M2 card. The SIM card is clear on the other side of the laptop, in a tray that also has a micro SD slot.


This gives me some hope: 5G LTE M.2 To Usb 3.0, 2.0 Adapter in United Kingdom, Austria, Czech Republic, Saudi Arabia, Mexico - EXVIST Official Store

A 5g USB3 adapter with two SIM trays and an M2 slot for the 5g modem. If this could be compressed down to an expansion card size, it could work (with a single SIM tray, maybe). The big question is whether commercial 5g M2 cards will fit into the footprint of an expansion card, especially once you factor in the space for an M2 to USB adapter…

Ah, I see @Stephen304 already mentioned these adapters above!

Also: M2 5g cards are EXPENSIVE. Like, $300-$500 expensive. Maybe I’m just finding ones priced for industrial uses?

Also also: 4g ones are considerably cheaper, but I think the main challenge is that there appears to be a standard width for m2-based 4g/5g modems, and it’s 30mm. That’s the width of an expansion card with the case, unfortunately 3mm too wide for a pcb to go in an expansion card case (correct me if I’m wrong here).


Not a bad idea… but remember… there is only 4 expansion slots on the laptop :stuck_out_tongue: … I just hotspot from my unlimited data 5G phone when traveling.


When you do release your ethernet card in its oversized form, will you also release the CAD files as you have with the regular-sized ones?

Probably not as it will be custom designed for Ethernet.

To a certain degree, all the expansion cards are, but I get your point. Here’s hoping they do release it and it is functional for other things as well.

The only real use for a custom designed RJ-45 model is for serial which is already done.

If it’s taller (z-height), then it could be used for a lot of dual-function purposes, and/or fitting m.2s or mini-pcie devices in at a diagonal, where they would be millimeters shy of not fitting in a regular-sized one

My reasoning for wanting this:

Are there any use cases exist for this that wouldn’t be served by tethering to eg- a less expensive cell phone?

I’m not interested in any internal radio in my laptop, including wifi, although I do have interest in modules for networking, but for most countries where I could or would buy data SIMs, I wouldn’t necessarily want one in my laptop that didn’t also include GPS.

And most of that reason is made moot if someone can remove it easily, so I suppose some kind of module locks would need to exist first…

5G access now is good enough that it can supplant wifi in many situations, very helpful for on-the-go individuals.
Tethering often incurs seperate charges because mobile carriers are parasites.

I’m currently very happy with a 3G-modem in my thinkpad laptop (which I hope to replace with a framework one soon). I’ve used wifi tethering when on the road, but recently set up the internal 3G modem and now connecting to the internet while on the road is a matter of clicking “connect”, with no need to get out my phone to enable the hotspot. I have multiple SIM cards all sharing the same data bundle from a single subscription, so there’s really no difference in cost either.

So for me, cell data connectivity in the framework laptop would be a matter of convenience, and would also prevent draining my phone battery (yes, I can charge my phone from my laptop, but that the hassle with cables even more thoroughly destroys the convenience factor…).

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