I’m needing a 5G nsa card for my laptop no larger than 42mm×30mm. The only one I found is the MV31‑W from Gemalto (the manufacturer). But there are maybe other options.

After a call to the manufacturer/Gemalto, the representative told me that I would be able to receive voice calls despite the card being data only. I insisted that I was meaning phone calls using the current phone number which belongs to the sim card which would be put inside the device and not skype or even sip techniques or something which involves changing the phone number. He repeated that this was possible without third party hardware. Without (me) understanding whether the card fully behaves like a plain network card.

In theory, it should be possible to do what I want through software since the sim card and the device performs the required authentication on mobile networks already since it has to be done only one time for both voice and data.
Or maybe the reason is since Volte or Vonr is completely ip‑based that it can be done without hardware after all (I’ve no idea)…

Having never used a hardware phone before, I don’t have a real idea on what to do even in the case the card would support things like volte or csfb or vonr other than Windows would provide what’s needed without further configuration and that I should be able to configure Asterisk on other systems (as a sip gateway to the card not as a standalone server).

But how to configure Windows or Asterisks in order to perform phone calls when the mobile broadband card is data‑only ?
My cellular provider is Free Mobile but I can switch to Orange/Sosh if required.

  • For reference, I’m not talking about android or ᴀʀᴍ but about a laptop using an Intel Xeon. 5G Non‑Stand‑Alone refers to the use of 5G over ʟᴛᴇ networks. – user2284570 May 31 at 13:15
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    A little confusing... You state that you want to receive call on that number, no sip, but after you ask for instruction on Asterisks...that for what I understand is somehow a voip program (so sip). :-) Moreover, you states that the device (MV31‑W) do the required network authentication (on Gemalto as provider?) but the producer site said that Voice support is Data only. Now does the Gemalto representative said that you can receive phone call even with MV31? Maybe it is possible with other devices/boxes even provided with a 6P4C port (RJ11 plug), so wihout software. – Hastur Jun 10 at 11:47
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    Thanks, better. If the "the mobile broadband card is data‑only" the only traffic you can receive should be the data one. No voice. It is provider&country dependent. I know that, i.e. in a couple of different EU countries/provider, you cannot: the providers block voice traffic to that simcard. But it is possible that for your provider it is not so. You always have the possibility to receive calls through the internet connection. Some providers block some of those possibilities. Some of them just forbid voip, but you can often find a workaround. Many of them just let you free to use it. – Hastur Jun 10 at 13:23
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    "I'm not sure the card is data only". This makes all the differences in the world. In some of the countries I know (to be honest all) on data card the providers stop the voice traffic. They block it from their side. It means you can have all the hardware you want, they will block the voice traffic (exception if you hack their system...). On usual sim card from the same provider, you can have both voice and data traffic, at the same time. – Hastur Jun 10 at 13:43
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    Moreover, do you want to receive or to do calls? This because there are free 3rd party services for incoming calls on fixed (ground) numbers, that are then routed through internet and that you can receive wherever you are. I mean they give you for free a subscription for a local (you decide which one) ground number. If you want to receive a call is free for you; the callers will pay in agreement with they plan. Instead,if you want to do a call you have to charge in advance your bill... This can be an alternative. Even more you may consider an external (wifi) router using that data simcard. – Hastur Jun 10 at 13:46

The MV31-W card that you linked to is a M.2 form factor data modem and GNSS receiver. It doesn't have a native front-end for voice calls -- hence why you found it listed as a "data only" card. (note, if I ever say "card" I am referring to the physical MV31 hardware; I will use "SIM" if referring to the telephone company's Subscriber Identity Module smartcard)

As Hastur pointed out in the comments, if you are using a data-only SIM then you will not be able to get voice calls. And that's the end of the story. So your first step is to make sure that your SIM is enabled for both voice and data.

The good news is that all cell phones operating above "3G" are data-only devices; even the "voice only" calls are actually routed through digital data systems. The bad news is that most carriers push this data on a separate processing band that is handled by a distinct RFE from the "cellular data modem" component of the calls. Your MV31 card does not have the RFE made for voice calls.

Back to more of the good news: You can emulate the RFE entirely in software. With the right software you can add a virtual telephone interface to the connection made by the MV31 card (again, assuming your SIM and line of service are both voice-enabled). The software will vary depending upon the cellular telecom provider. About 6 years ago I had a Lenovo laptop that came with a piece of AT&T software that did just this; it was pre-loaded (the laptop came with the AT&T card and SIM), and now days I wish I still had a copy of it. The reason this software is telecom specific is because it has to interface with your specific telecom's voice calling system. And this takes us back to yet more bad news, if your telecom doesn't have (or doesn't allow) interfacing software then you won't be able to do this.

Some follow on points, since it sounds like you may have been overwhelmed by some less than fully helpful sales types.

  • Using Asterisk means you will be running a SIP server -- you'll have to have a SIP service provider that has a phone number and you log into them to get/make phone calls. This is very effective for multi-phone systems, but for a single line it is a bit overkill (and a lot of hassle). You'd be better of using something more like Skype at this point.
  • VoLTE (Voice over LTE) is the technology I was referring to when I said that phones operating above 3G are actually data only. And it uses specialized encoding software in the RFE and LTE data gateway to connect your phone calls over a data-only network. This is the same end effect as the computer software I mentioned. But the MV31 card is not a native VoLTE encoder, so it can't do this without additional software.
  • CSFB (Circuit Switched Fall Back) is completely off the table. The MV31 is a data-only card, it cannot connect directly to the older circuit-switching voice telephony networks.
  • You will not be able to receive or place calls on the MV31 from your Nokia's mobile number. At least not without removing the SIM from the Nokia and putting it into the computer, and then switching back when you want to use the Nokia. The phone number is tied to the "subscriber point of presence" -- which is uniquely identified by the SIM. Your computer SIM will have one phone number and the Nokia SIM will have a different phone number. So even if you get voice calling from the laptop working like you're describing, it will be with the laptop's phone number.

A lot of this sounds like you may have been talking to the wrong folks before buying parts (specifically talking to the hardware tech support instead of talking to your cellular telephone company). It is an easy mistake to make if you haven't done this before. Remember for the next time around that you're coordinating both hardware and service, so both need to be consulted about feasibility, capability, and compatibility.

Finally, I'll offer a possible solution for you. Look for a service similar to Google Voice. Either get a new VoIP telephone number, or port your existing telephone number to the online VoIP relay service. Then have Google Voice (or your preferred alternative) setup to forward the call to whatever number you're using on the Nokia. You can then go to the Google Voice site (or use the Voice/Hangouts/Duo software) to make & receive phone calls from your laptop with the same phone number. I mention Google Voice specifically because it is free, and you stressed that particular requirement; but you can use RingCentral, Grasshopper, OnSip, or any other such service if you can't (or simply don't want to) use Google Voice -- just know they have varying price points. The down side is that since you have a non-smart phone, it is difficult to make outbound calls from the phone using the unified Google Voice phone number (both can receive calls on that number, and if you use a smartphone with the Google Voice app [especially Androids, that can seamlessly handle this exact setup] then this whole thing works perfectly)

In the end, using the cellular data modem for only data and then using an over-the-internet telephone service provider (ie: Google Voice) to take care of call handling for both your computer & Nokia sounds like it is the closest to optimal final solution. You'll have one phone number that is used to receive calls. You can make calls from the laptop using that same phone number; and if you upgrade to a smartphone you can make calls from the cell using that number as well. You can send/receive text messages using that phone number. And (as long as you use Google Voice) it doesn't have an added cost beyond what you're already doing -- just the two SIMs & cellular lines of service with your telecom (laptop and Nokia).

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  • Please re‑read my question… I didn’t call the cellular company at all. Gemalto/Cinterion is the manufacturer, so this is the manufacturer which is asserting I can make regular calls with it (don’t know if he is referring the emulation in your post though). Despite being clear in my question if you read correctly. For an unknown reason, Hastur is making the mistake. Google voice involves changing the phone number which isn’t an option as the point is receiving calls on it. And phone providers here charge almost 60€ to 80€ per months if you take a ꜱɪᴘ/Voɪᴘ relay as an option. – user2284570 Jun 14 at 18:16
  • Though Gemalto isn’t selling to individuals. If you don’t sign a contract for buying something like 100000 devices, they have little incentive to bother with you. So I initially asked clarifications about Voice support: Data Only in February, then got a reply at the end of March for asking a phone call appointment then received that phone call mid May. So, I suppose I will receive the definite technical answer in something like August or September (I replied on the same day each time). – user2284570 Jun 14 at 18:30
  • I didn’t bought the hardware yet. But all the alternatives cards I found are larger and don’t fit inside the laptop. I recognize finding an alternative card would be the simplest solution. You will not be able to receive or place calls on the MV31 from your Nokia's mobile number. At least not without removing the SIM from the Nokia and putting it into the computer This is because the card will be inside the ᴍᴠ31‑ᴡ that I want to receive phone call on it. – user2284570 Jun 14 at 18:43
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    I know you didn't call the cellular company, my point was that you should. They're party of the system design you're trying to create. -- No M.2 data modem for a PC will have voice calling built into it. That isn't what they are built to do. You're looking at the wrong solution path for your problem. You need to focus first on digital voice handoff, then find a way to mobilise that. The answer won't be a specific M.2 modem; it'll be software and services in combination. – Ruscal Jun 14 at 19:45
  • About the cellular provider, I extract this config file from the modem’s firmware of my phone : pastebin.com/cjhxMvLC. Don’t know if that’s useful. French cellular companies are outsourcing all their support in the Maghreb much like their English counterpart are outsourced in India. The staff doesn’t even know what’s an ɪᴘ address is. It doesn’t even worth trying to call… – user2284570 Jun 14 at 19:49

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