Wireless Modems Not Just Modems Anymore

Huawei Technologies and Sony Ericsson have launched wireless modems for HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) networks that try to be more than just modems.

Huawei's E180 and the MD400 and MD400g from Sony Ericsson come in the shape of a USB (Universal Serial Bus) stick and feature built-in card readers. One of Sony Ericcson's offerings also comes with GPS (Global Positioning System) technology.

"The vendors have started to try to differentiate their products, so they don't have to compete on just price," said Mark Newman, chief research officer at market-research company Informa Telecoms and Media.

The GPS function on the MD400g integrates with Google Maps and the device has a M2 Memory Stick Micro and microSD slot, so the modem works as a card reader or a memory stick. The MD400 is a bit simpler; it lacks GPS support, but has the card slot.

Both products feature a swivel diversity antenna to improve performance and protect the USB connector when the modem is not in use.

"The antenna is needed to take advantage of higher speeds," said Joakim Liljedahl, senior category manager at Sony Ericsson.

Huawei's E180, which is 10 mm thick, features a MicroSD card slot as well. It also comes with a rotatable USB connector, which can be turned by 270 degrees. This way, the USB connector can be stored safely without needing an additional cover, according to Huawei.

The E180 supports uplink bandwidth rates of up to 5.76M bps (bits per second) and a downlink of up to 7.2M bps. Sony Ericsson's modems support the same downlink speed, but only go up to 2M bps on the uplink.

MD400 and MD400g will start shipping globally during the fourth quarter. The E180 will become available during the second half of June in most parts of the world. Pricing has not been announced.

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