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What is a PC AirCard®?

By Ken Black
Updated May 17, 2024
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A PC AirCard® is a piece of computer hardware that enables a computer to connect to a wireless network, most likely a cellular network, to access the internet. The PC AirCard® helps those who rely heavily on mobile computing and need that connectivity to the Internet even when they are away from the home or office. Without this device, mobile computing users would need to connect by wires or WiFi in order to get an internet connection. That may not be available.

The biggest advantage to a PC AirCard® is the independence it offers the user. In many cases, where there is a cellular signal, there is a good opportunity that it can be used to access the internet. For business users who need to keep in contact with clients or the office, or for those who need to send information back and forth, this is very useful device. However, the use of a PC AirCard® will require a subscription to a provider who supports the device.

A PC AirCard®, also known as a laptop air card, usually connects to the computer via a USB port. A PCMCIA slot is also used, depending on the model. In some cases, another type of slot known as an ExpressCard® slot can also be used. It is important to understand what kinds of connection options the user's PC has before deciding on a particular AirCard®.

Those who have a local cellular service may be able to look to that company for advice on purchasing a dependable PC AirCard®. Those offering the service should also provide maps of the state, country or region in which the user may be traveling. This will help that user determine when and where they will have service. This can be very critical for those who do a substantial amount of traveling outside of their home areas.

One of the advantages to a PC AirCard® is the fact that it can be disconnected whenever it needs to be. For those who are running a notebook computer on battery power, only connecting the card when it is needed could help save some on the battery life, enabling more work to be done on a single charge. This also helps for easier storage and transport, as the cards can be quite bulky.

For those interested in service for a PC AirCard®, there are a couple of things to consider besides coverage area. Cost and speed also make a difference. Some networks actually use speed as a selling point in their marketing mix. However, services will also be priced a little differently from one another.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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