Microsoft has been pushing the concept of an always-connected PC with integrated support for cellular broadband for a few years, and this year the company is partnering with Qualcomm to bring always-connected PCs with Snapdragon processors (and 4G LTE modems) to market.

But rival chip maker Intel says 2019 will be the year 5G-capable always-connected PCs hit the streets. The company is announcing partnerships with Microsoft and several major PC makers to put its 5G modem in PCs.

Keep in mind that the 5G standard won’t actually be finalized until later this year, and it’s unclear how long it’ll take wireless carriers to start rolling out their networks. But the idea is to provide high-speed, low-latency connections for billions of devices including phones, PCs, wearables, and Internet of Things gadgets.

Do you need those capabilities in a laptop or convertible PC? Maybe… but right now Intel acknowledges that the percentage of PCs that ship with cellular capabilities is still in the single digits.

The company expects that number to hit double-digits in the coming years though, as the costs go down and as customers get used to the ubiquity of wireless networks.

Personally I’d love to have a 4G or 5G modem in my laptop… if it was a one-time cost. The problem is that most US wireless carriers charge extra if you want to add another device to your account.

As a Project Fi customers, I could actually pick up a data-only SIM and use it with any PC that had a SIM card, paying only for the additional data used. But I can also just tether my laptop to my phone, which still seems like the easier way to go.

Anyway, I’m not trying to dismiss the concept of always-connected PCs. I’d just be more excited about them if they didn’t just strike me as a way to get people to spend more money on their monthly cellular bills.

Back to Intel, the company says partners including Dell, Lenovo, and HP will launch computers next year that feature the company’s XMM 8060 5G modem.

Intel is also partnering with chip maker Spreadtrum to bring phones with Intel’s 5G modem and Spreadtrum’s application processor available in China, with an emphasis on mid-range and high-end phones.

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8 replies on “Intel says always-connected PCs with 5G are coming in 2019”

  1. No thanks. Ethernet is the best way to go. I only use wireless when I feel I have no other choice, and I usually do have a choice and that is wait until I get home.

  2. Intel’s SC9861G-IA SOC for Spreadtrum is not selling well at all. Popular app compatibility has given it a very bad image. I suspect that Intel is building them an ARM only SOC which should give them a chance. It appears the Spreadtrum is only making Intel products as Intel bought a good amount of their stock.

  3. My image of Intel’s “Always connected PC” is one where the power cord is always plugged-in.

  4. I don’t think it’s a secret how I view always-connected PCs, or at least how they are being targeted and marketed. Think of the absurdity of “coming in 2019”.

    The fear, no question about it for Intel is that people are going to have the super powered smartphones by 2019. They already are. So on what planet do I need to carry with me 2 devices that are equals? It’s call redundancy. Instead, the smartphone is going to be more than capable of being the brains of a laptop shell. They really already are in 2017/2018. When that happens, sorry for Intel and others, but the market just shrank by a whole bunch.

    So ultimately it’s all about controlling the market. Unfortunately the tide is changing. Our smartphones can do pretty much everything and all they need is the keyboard and display size. Then it’s game over.

    Did anyone else notice the fact the always connected PC is being marketed towards the business “on the go” individual? Guess what every business person has on them? Yeah, a smartphone. Yeah, a smartphone with a data plan. You would have to be a pretty arrogant “business” person to spend extra money on data for your laptop while your smartphone (also with a data plan) sits in your pocket while non utilizing the tethering capabilities instead. Money to burn isn’t really the business mentality, or so I thought.

    I’m excited to hear a solid rationale for the need or desire for these. Considering I didn’t talk about Google’s quest to send wifi balloons to every corner of the planet, isn’t growing free wifi a major threat to this category?

    1. > smartphone is going to be more than capable of being the brains of a laptop shell.

      Lots of us are waiting for this but the biggest hurdle is the mobile OS itself. I have an Android tablet with keyboard/mouse wrapped in a true laptop-like case. No matter what I do with it, it doesn’t compare with a true Desktop OS experience.

      Simple things like copy/paste, mouse control, multi-tasking and, most importantly, the quality of the programs themselves just don’t cut it. For people satisfied with something like ChromeOS, basic word-processing and general consumption… yeah, I agree that a smartphone/shell solution will probably be enough.

      Also, as far as the redundancy issue… let’s tack on the issue of syncing across devices. Google, Apple and even Microsoft only want to do this via the cloud. From the business standpoint you mentioned – that’s a security/privacy issue of serious concern.

      Google, Apple, Microsoft, etal… continue to push their own agendas instead of addressing the needs of the end-users. As a result, across the commercial landscape, we are riddled with half-baked OS solutions that are focused primarily on data-mining.

      The smartphone – laptop-shell might have been here in 2016 if not for large tech sabotaging these efforts. Microsoft has no mobile solution so it’s not worth it to them. Google and Apple are both sporting two OSes with very specific goals. The only thing that benefits them are multiple devices ($$$) sharing data ($$$) over the cloud ($$$).

    2. Sorry, I have to respectfully disagree. The smartest smartphone is NOT a laptop replacement, at least not yet. Asus tried selling a phone you could slide into a laptop( transformer book V), but it tanked.

      Tethering as you suggest is fine, in a pinch, and for short periods, but it’s no replacement for mobile broadband if you need to be fully functional while on the road all day. Try talking to your customer for 20 minutes on your phone while you build their order on your laptop from the back seat of a car going 55 miles an hour some time. If your phone and carrier can even offer stable Simultaneous Voice and Data under those conditions, congratulations, you are in the minority. You will still have the major problem of keeping both of those batteries charged, and if you’ve ever used your phone to tether a laptop for more than a few minutes, you’d be horrified to see how fast your phone battery dies. With built-in mobile broadband (not those ridiculous USB dongles) your laptop can manage the power much better, so the drain is not as bad. For now, I prefer my phone to be a phone, and my laptop to be a laptop. You can add an unlimited LTE data-only plan to your existing cell phone plan for $10 a month (I use T-Mobile), which is a lot less than the business I’d lose if i couldn’t work from the road.

  5. “I’d just be more excited about them if they didn’t just strike me as a way to get people to spend more money on their monthly cellular bills.”
    THIS!!! Want us to get excited? Bring out a technology that makes our lives easier/better that doesn’t add yet another monthly fee.

    1. “If you’re good at something, never do it for free”
      – Joker, 2008

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