Anyone interested in a WWAN expansion card?

I would be the first one to buy!


I think it would be a great idea. Although the legalities around all of it are probably a real bear to deal with.

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I wouldn’t put the actual modem in it, I would just have the plug for it and space for a SIM card.


+1, This is the biggest feature I miss moving from my Lenovo. Now I have to carry a hotspot.


What does it need to install. Why doesn’t it? What if any do, sounds very handy.

This is one of the things holding me back now that a 16” version is coming. The 13” was way to small! But I use my WWAN LTE in my Lenovo all the time. It would be hard to go back.

I guess we are the minority that would like an always connected laptop…

My guess is that it has more to do with the fact that that WWAN modules in laptops instantly add an extra $200-400, which for many isn’t worth it when they can just use their phones as a wireless hotspot instead.

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For us business users, it makes total sense. I use my laptop on the road all the time, and having another device, like a hotspot, is not convenient. And draining my phone battery is even less so. I’m all for spending a little extra for the convenience. And even more if it provides more speed, like 5G.

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Signed up for the forum just to say: YES. It’s a must-have in my search for a replacement for my steadily aging Intel 7th-gen Latitude. Especially if it’s a 5G capable modem w/ physical SIM compatibility.

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Same here, I came to say YES PLEASE, I would very much buy the framework, but without WWAN, I will not be able to…

Yes please!
It’s the one thing that keeps me from switching from ThinkPads to - the lack of integrated WWAN connectivity.

I think I have it straight that different areas around the world have different standards / requirements for the bands, frequencies, etc. I wonder if there is a universal setup that would be determined by the SIM / eSIM? Might be tricky with support on Linux.

I wonder if there are still any plans for this expansion card to be made?

I played around with this as both a Windows and (more often) Linux daily driver. Based on the size of the expansion cards and the WWAN cards and SIM slots–they’re about the same size as a consumer WLAN card–it’s not totally unfeasible, especially when often these devices behave like they’re on a USB bus. On a hardware level, the antenna would be an issue. I’ve taken apart a fair number of WWAN capable laptops and they have typically two or three additional antennas that run alongside the WLAN antennas, usually in the bezel of the monitor. I’ve also seen them run around the trackpad for plastic chassis’s, but with much worse performance. Not sure if there’s a good way of avoiding having an antenna sticking out of the card without permanently altering one of the USB-C ports on the machine.

For linux users, however, there is a pretty huge limitation in the kernel. Because there are only a handful of WWAN chip manufacturers, the biggest being Fibocom, 5G drivers are pretty much unavailable and incompatible with the kernel. We’re stuck with 4G and no eSIM; I suffered with a Fibocom L860-GL and the utter nightmare of modemmanager for way too long. Not an issue with Window lmao, but that’s the life of FOSS.

Ultimately, I think the best solution in my humble opinion is installing a 5G, eSIM capable modem in a second M.2 slot for Windows or a 4G modem with nano sim that’s basically locked into the chassis for Linux (and Windows). Also an appropriate bios. Probably something that can be done on FW 16. FW 13 would require much more effort, though not impossible.

If something like this could be made with usb-c and miniaturized that would work.

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I would take a WWAN expansion any day of the week over a Hotspot from my phone. Performance alone is well worth the extra $'s.

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Is it though?

Getting a wwan card with anywhere close to the performance of even the cheapest 5g phone is going to be a lot more than 200$ and given you probably already have a phone the “worth it” isn’t really there on the performance end. It does have some convenience though.

Maybe not performance alone, but in combination with other aspects, it is worth it IMHO.

  • Less drain on the mobile phone battery (if you use the phone at all; using a private phone with the business laptop can be a reason to fill out annoying forms in some places).
  • avoids carrying around another item that needs to be recharged
  • doesn’t stick out like some WWAN usb sticks do - less risk of breaking, looks better
  • more comfortable to have it all plugged in the laptop right away.

For private use, it may be overkill; for a business laptop, I’d say this is definitely welcome.

And the $200 price tag… yes, that’d be expensive; but (a) above module goes for $10, and (b) the additonal cost on other laptops is <$50 (I had +$25 last time), so it can be done for a reasonable price.

  • True
  • How often do you carry a laptop but not your phone? I don’t really see a scenario when I’d do that but someone might. Not sure that’s a very common scenario though
  • in the case of an expansion card you’d definitely sill need antennas sticking out
  • Built in modems are definitely convenient

That’s just an adapter to connect a much more than 10$ modem to usb, the actual modem is going to cost between more and a lot more depending on how fast you want.

That’s probably more a quirk of the pricing structure of the laptop than the actual cost. For <50$ at best you get some class4 lte modem which is going to be slower than pretty much any phone you may have. M.2 5g modems were hundreds of dollars last time I checked.