Manufacturers are racing to produce more portable wireless modems amid the continuing growth in the demand for mobile broadband access. ABI Research principal analyst Jeff Orr said that with the number of mobile broadband subscribers expected to exceed 1.5 billion by 2015 and with consumers buying more Internet-enabled wireless devices such as Ipads, netbooks and smart phones, "cellular modems used to connect Internet services to mobile devices are, therefore, gaining in popularity."
ABI Research's "Cellular Modem Product Tracker" indicates that hundreds of wireless modem models are now available to consumers. While most support GSM, GPRS, EDGE or HSDPA network technologies, a growing number use 4G technologies. They also support various frequency bands and access technology and come is all sorts of form factors such as PC cards, USB dongles, internal Mini-Cards and mobile hotspot routers.
One such device is Huawei's E583C portable hotspot, which provide 7.2Mb/s downloads and 5.76Mb/s uploads. Weighing just 90g, it can provide an Internet connection to up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices at a time. Some products provide 21.1Mb/s downloads using HSPA+ connections.
Some of the new wireless modems that debuted this year are Sierra Wireless' Aircard 250U and Franklin Wireless' U600. They both support 4G connections using mobile WiMAX. WiMAX modems for PCs are also available from Green Packet, Intel and Motorola. On the LTE front, vendors are preparing to sell new products, such as Huawei's E398 USB modem, which supports LTE, UMTS and GSM.