Cellular modems come in a variety of form-factors such as PC Cards, USB modems, internal Mini-Cards and mobile hotspot routers. USB modem dongles are the most common devices offered by the mobile network operators. Mobile broadband dongles provide several advantages. They are easy to carry and flexible to use, so it is very convenient for users to maintain Internet access when they are away from home or office.
The latest products show improved speed and form-factors. Huawei's E583C, which also doubles as a portable hotspot, is one example. It can provide 7.2 Mbps downstream and 5.76 Mbps upstream. It weighs just 90 grams and up to five devices can be connected via Wi-Fi. Products supporting HSPA+ networks can provide download speeds up to 21.1 Mbps.
"At present, most modems on the market support GSM, GPRS, EDGE or HSDPA network technologies, according to ABI Research's cellular modem Market Data," says research associate Khin Sandi Lynn. "There is also a growing selection of wireless modems supporting 4G technologies."
Among the new wireless modems launched this year, Sierra Wireless's Aircard 250U and Franklin Wireless's U600 are USB modems that support 4G data access using mobile WiMAX. Green Packet, Intel and Motorola also provide WiMAX modems for PCs. While the competing LTE air interface protocol has yet to go commercial on any scale in the world, vendors are already jockeying for position. Huawei has launched its E398 USB modem, which is compatible with LTE, UMTS and GSM protocols.