I still remember that magical feeling. It was 2003 and I had bought my first mobile phone that was connected to the internet. Suddenly, I could surf the web wherever I was, and the world became a little more open.
Today, the idea of a phone without a constant connection to the internet would be summarily rejected by most people, but when it comes to our laptops, we have different expectations. While there are plenty of lightweight travel computers, they rarely support mobile broadband. Out of the more than 2500 laptops on the price comparison service Prisjakt, only 32 have 5G support.
Similarly, our mobile phone subscriptions are usually designed only for mobile phones. In other words, anyone who wants to use their computer in cafes, libraries, buses, stations and airports has to deal with a lot of unnecessary hassle to get connected.
Personally, I think it is time to make computers permanently connected, and there are several reasons why now is the right time:
- The need has increased. During the pandemic years, many people realized that sitting in the office for 40 hours a week is unnecessary—and our coffee shops are now full of people working and studying on their laptops.
- The range of computers that are lightweight and have good battery life is growing. My own machine weighs less than a kilo and can last almost an entire working day without recharging if I’m stingy.
- Electronic sim cards (esim) have been widely adopted. You no longer need a physical SIM card for mobile browsing, and the cost of equipping a computer with mobile broadband is not very high.
- Esim also makes it easy to offer mobile subscriptions that work on multiple products. Today, it is a matter of course that we can use, for example, Spotify, Netflix and other streaming services on more than one device. Similarly, it would of course be possible to sell mobile subscriptions that work on multiple devices. These already exist today, but they are far from standard.
- I think the most important reason why even our computers should be constantly connected is 5G. This new generation of mobile networks is designed to give all devices a fast and stable connection. The industry is talking about self-driving cars and smart home gadgets—but it could also mean a revolution for our computers.
Of course, it is already possible to surf with Wi-Fi in many places. The problem is that it often requires incomprehensible passwords, complicated logins and unreliable connections. Believe me, as a remote worker, I’ve seen it all. Using an open Wi-Fi network is also a much less secure solution than surfing via the mobile network.
The alternative is to use your mobile phone’s internet-sharing feature, but even this is an emergency solution that can be annoyingly slow.
Developing computers that are always connected would be a natural development. Just as natural as when mobile phones became always-on 20 years ago.
This article was translated from Swedish to English, and originally appeared on PCforAlla.