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A wireless modem is a modem that bypasses the telephone system and connects directly to a wireless network, through which it can directly access the Internet connectivity provided by an Internet service provider (ISP).
Wireless modems may be prebuilt into smartphones, mobile phones and personal data assistants (PDAs), or they may be distributed in the form of USB, serial or wireless firewall modems. Other types of wireless modems range from the size of a cable modem to the size of a credit card or smaller.
Today, smartphones, PDAs and mobile phones can be used as data modems, creating a wireless access point for a personal computer Internet connection or connection to a proprietary network. Nearly all cell phones support the Hayes Command Set standard, allowing the phone to appear as an external modem when connected via USB, serial cable, IrDA infared or Bluetooth wireless; however, not all wireless cell phone providers allow this, and some charge an extra fee for it.
Wi-Fi and WiMAX standards may also be used for wireless firewall, serial and USB modems operating at microwave frequencies. These modems may attach to a desktop, laptop or PDA. Some wireless modems with appropriate hardware may even originate and receive phone calls.
Other types of wireless modems include compact flash modems, express card modems and PC card modems. Some of these may even include GPS capabilities.