However, prices for laptop modems have gone down: Verizon offers a USB dongle for $29.99 with a two-year contract. The major PC makers also sell laptops with 3G modems built in. Some carriers, such as Vodafone in Europe, are also planning to resell 3G-equipped laptops themselves.
“Growth has been phenomenal,” Shey said in an interview. Falling prices for devices and services is one factor, he noted. The hottest type of laptop modem for 3G (third-generation) and 3.5G connectivity is the USB (Universal Serial Bus) dongle, Shey said. Internal Mini-PCI modems as well as cards that slide into PC Card slots are also available.
Modems are of two general types: some connect to ordinary dial-up phone lines, others to dedicated high-speed lines or advanced computer networks. The United States market for dial-up modems - $420 million in 1989, according to Dataquest of San Jose, Calif. - is dominated by such companies as Hayes Microcomputer Products Inc., Microcom Inc., U.S. Robotics Inc. and Acer America Corporation. Some of their hottest products are laptop computer modems.
You can connect a laptop to a cable modem using an Ethernet or USB cable, depending on the type of ports the laptop and modem have. Alternatively, connect to the modem wirelessly by using a router.