ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

All about SIM slot (K2 #2)

Question of the Week
I recently found a SIM slot on my Dell Vostro 3400 laptop. When I inserted a SIM card, nothing happened. Is there something wrong with my laptop?
-- Tashi Dubjur, College of Science and Technology

Rest assured, there's nothing wrong with your laptop. The mere existence of a SIM slot does not mean it can be utilized. Why? Keep on reading.

Both B-Mobile and TashiCell provide Internet access using their cellular network. With a suitable prepaid or postpaid data package from the cellular provider, and a special piece of hardware - known as a data modem - you can connect to the Internet wherever there's a signal.

There are various types of data modems. Some mobile phones - for example, the iPhone - include a built-in data modem. Users can send email or surf the Internet using the phone's tiny screen. Many of these phones - but not all - can be hooked up to a laptop, either with a cable or wirelessly via Bluetooth. The laptop can then access the Internet by utilizing the phone's modem. This is known as "tethering".

Perhaps more common in Bhutan are USB data modems. These look very much like bulky USB pen drives, but don't let appearance fool you! Like mobile phones, they include a slot for inserting a SIM card, so that the mobile company will be able to identify the subscriber. To surf the Internet, you plug the USB data modem into the the USB slot in your laptop, click "Connect", and - voilà - you're online!

Last, but not least, some laptops have an option for an internal data modem, installed inside the laptop's chassis. Sometimes laptops are sold with a pre-installed internal modem, or you might be able to purchase the modem separately. In both cases, the manufacturer has already included the SIM slot in the laptop. I checked the Dell website, and in some countries the Vostro 3400 has an option for a built-in data modem, called the "Dell Wireless 5540 HSPA Mini Card" (which, incidentally, also includes a GPS receiver). However, it was most likely not included with your laptop. That's why nothing happens when you insert a SIM card into the slot. It's basically just a slot, with no hardware to utilize it.

To get the most accurate information about your Vostro's hardware, I recommend checking out its system configuration using one of the Dell tools available online at

Website of the Week
The trio of, and is a great resource for researching airline ticket fares to, from, and within India, as well as hotel room prices. is my favorite: In addition to a clean and incredibly friendly interface, you can check train seat availability in the next 90 days using its fantastic Indian Railways calendar at

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

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