Cellular PC Modem Shipments Continue Rampant Growth

Posted by at 6:52 pm on October 14, 2010

WWAN modem shipments in 2009 topped 72 million units, a significant growth over the 46.4 million units shipped during 2008. But both volumes pale in comparison with the 93 million units expected to ship in 2010. The overwhelming majority of these modems are found in the USB dongle form factor rather than embedded in their host devices.

What explains the powerful attraction of the USB dongle modem? “Many new mobile broadband networks are being deployed right now,” says ABI Research principal analyst Jeff Orr. “The HSPA and HSPA+ protocols, as well as WiMAX and LTE, are luring subscribers who want their existing computing and communications devices to be enabled for those networks. We find that new computer sales with embedded modem modules are being adopted between 9 and 12 months after the new network services launch, while USB modems are an immediate upgrade opportunity.”

Practice director Kevin Burden adds, “The USB modem is the most efficient, lowest cost, quickest and easiest way to take any wireless device online in the widest range of locations. It’s a familiar interface, compact, easy to carry, and convenient. ABI Research sees the USB modem continuing to provide strong growth to this segment for the medium-term at least.”

Chinese vendors have been making deep inroads in this market, making the most of their high-volume, low overhead manufacturing capabilities. Indeed they have been so successful that last quarter one European vendor, the Belgian firm Option Wireless, asked the EC to investigate possible dumping within its member states. That investigation is still in progress.

ABI Research’s “Cellular and Mobile Broadband PC Modem Market Data” ┬áprovides market share and shipment forecast data for cellular modems used to supply cellular connectivity for laptops and other portable computing devices such as netbooks and tablets. Cellular modems come in four form factors: PCMCIA cards, USB modems, internal modems, and 3G/Wi-Fi routers.

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