Will Apple's new Core i5 and i7 MacBook Pros have 3G?

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Ever since the MacBook Air, a machine made for 3G wireless access, was released without built-in ability to connect to mobile wireless, I've been waiting for Apple to put 3G access in their laptops.

Will my wait be over soon?

A couple of things have happened in the last month that give me a bit of hope.

Firstly, Apple has negotiated a 3G wireless plan with AT&T and other wireless carriers for their iPad device which is due with 3G in April.  The plans are very reasonable - $14.99 for for 250MB/month or $29.99 for "unlimited access". The iPads are open and can be used with any GSM carrier.  Plans can be changed monthly or dropped entirely according to Apple's iPad information.

That cost is about half of the industry average for data plans.  Verizon, for instance, charges $39.99 for 250GB and $60 for 5GB/month of data.

Unlimited MacBook plans would likely be higher because the iPad is a more closed platform and won't allow for data hungry applications like torrent clients.

So what makes me think a MacBook Pro update is coming soon?  Firstly, Intel advertised briefly a contest to win a Core i5 MacBook Pro -- something which Apple hasn't released yet.  While Intel took the MacBook down and came up with a convenient excuse for the slip-up, it clearly knows about an upcoming MacBook Pro.

Additionally, this weekend, someone, somewhere tested a Core i7 MacBook Pro on the popular Geekbench online speedtest.  The Core i7 version of the MacBook Pro blew the doors off current MacBook Pro models.  

There is also the purported Best Buy inventory deletions and other assorted rumors.

Finally, Apple usually keeps their iMac and MacBook products pretty similar in terms of processors (with the notable exception of the G5 iMac). It has been three months since Apple introduced their Core i5/i7 iMacs so a MacBook Pro update should come soon.

So it seems like a MacBook Pro update is coming -- maybe even in time for Macworld -- and Apple's been negotiating data contracts with the telcos.  Put those two together and you may have another reason to get an update.

Perhaps they'll finally build 3G capability into their MacBook Pros, so that their power users don't have to carry unwieldy, inelegant 3G dongles with them to get the same 3G access that Dell and HP users have had built-in for three years.

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