Saturday, May 31, 2008

What is a Broadband USB Modem?

What is a broadband USB modem you ask? That is a great question as all the major wireless carriers are offering a broadband USB modem to their customers. And frankly, the USB modem may very well, in several cases, be the best option for wireless mobile broadband Internet for many potential customers.

But before we get into the advantages or disadvantages or a broadband USB modem, first let's break the term "broadband USB modem" down into its three parts.

As I have discussed in past posts, mobile broadband refers to high speed internet access and for the purposes of this blog we will concentrate on mobile broadband - or high speed internet - offered by wireless carriers ( i.e. Sprint and Verizon).

USB, or universal serial bus, refers to the connection port on your computer that you plug all your peripherals (i.e. cameras, printers, USB modem, etc.) into. Nearly every computer on the market currently has at least one USB port. USP ports are the standard connection for electronic devices and it only makes sense that modems should be made to plug into this type of connection as well.

Lastly, a modem is a device that enables information sent between a computer and the internet to be converted into a format that is usable to the end user. This is a hugely simplistic explanation as a modem is a very complex item and further explanation is beyond the scope of this post.

So now that you have an basic understanding of the term "broadband USB modem" we can move on.

A broadband USB modem is a device that plugs into the USB modem of a computer that enables the computer to have wireless internet access wherever there is cellular coverage provided by their wireless carrier.

Because the device plugs into a USB port, the broadband USB modem can be used with any computer, whether it be a laptop or desktop. This "universal" connection ability makes the broadband USB modem the first choice among customers who would like to use their wireless internet connection on more than one computer. It should be noted that only one computer will have internet access at a time unless a broadband router is used, but again that is beyond the scope of this post.

A new feature that is being offered on a few newer broadband USB modems is a Micro SD card slot. This enables your broadband USB modem to double as a Micro SD card reader for easy transfer of pictures, documents, video or whatever else you want to transfer from your micro SD card to your computer or vice versa.

There are a few disadvantages to this type of modem, however. In my opinion, the fact that the broadband USB modem plugs directly into the side of your laptop in and of itself is a problem. What I mean by this is that the USB modem is very vulnerable to being bumped or broken off because it is sticking out a couple inches from the side of your laptop. This is not a problem with a desktop because of the immobility of the computer tower. But with a laptop, having something sticking out the side or back of your machine can be a real nuisance.

However, as long as you are careful or maybe take advantage of the enclosed USB cord, potential damage to your broadband USB modem can be avoided.

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