A GSM modem is a wireless modem that works with a GSM wireless network. A wireless modem behaves like a dial-up modem. The main difference between them is that a dial-up modem sends and receives data through a fixed telephone line while a wireless modem sends and receives data through radio waves. A GSM modem can be an external device or a PC Card / PCMCIA Card. Typically, an external GSM modem is connected to a computer through a serial cable or a USB cable. A GSM modem in the form of a PC Card / PCMCIA Card is designed for use with a laptop computer. It should be inserted into one of the PC Card / PCMCIA Card slots of a laptop computer. Like a GSM mobile phone, a GSM modem requires a SIM card from a wireless carrier in order to operate.
Both GSM Modems and dial-up modems support a common set of standard AT commands. You can use a GSM modem just like a dial-up modem. In addition to the standard AT commands, GSM Modems support an extended set of AT commands. These extended AT commands are defined in the GSM standards.
A GPRS modem is a GSM modem that additionally supports the GPRS technology for data transmission. GPRS stands for General Packet Radio Service. It is a packet-switched technology that is an extension of GSM. (GSM is a circuit-switched technology.) A key advantage of GPRS over GSM is that GPRS has a higher data transmission speed.
GPRS can be used as the bearer of SMS. If SMS over GPRS is used, an SMS transmission speed of about 30 SMS messages per minute may be achieved. This is much faster than using the ordinary SMS over GSM, whose SMS transmission speed is about 6 to 10 SMS messages per minute. A GPRS modem is needed to send and receive SMS over GPRS. Note that some wireless carriers do not support the sending and receiving of SMS over GPRS. If you need to send or receive MMS messages, a GPRS modem is typically needed.