updated 12:25 pm EST, Wed February 11, 2009
Sierra HSPA Plus USB Modem
Sierra Wireless today claimed a spot as the first company ever to release USB modems that support the new HSPA+ standard for 3G. The USB 306 and 307 both download at up to 21Mbps, or about three times the speed of regular HSPA; they also upload as quickly as the best HSPA devices, or about 5.8Mbps. The extra speed gives notebooks a wide-area wireless speed closer to a landline connection and is deemed especially useful for music and video streaming.
Either device also has a microSDHC slot to serve as an impromptu flash storage drive and will fall back to legacy HSPA, EDGE and GPRS connections in areas that don't yet support HSPA+. Drivers are embedded in the modems themselves and will automatically install on computers that support the software.
The USB 306 is focused on North American frequencies and will support the 850MHz band expected to be used by AT&T this year in addition to 1,800MHz and 2,100MHz connections. The 307 shifts attention to Europe with just 900MHz and 2,100MHz bands. Both ship within the first half of the year. Pricing is unavailable but is often dictated by the carriers selling the modems for use on their network.