Sierra Wireless announced the AirPrime MC8801, a module that will allow makers of laptops, netbooks and tablets to integrate mobile broadband using HSPA+ (High Speed Packet Access) at download speeds up to 42M bps (bits per second) into their products.

Samples of the AirPrime MC8801 module are now available to hardware makers for testing, with commercial shipments expected in the fourth quarter of this year, according to Sierra.

On Monday, Australian operator Telstra announced that it has become the first operator to launch a mobile broadband service using HSPA+ at 42Mbps. Sierra's AirCard 312U USB modem, which Telstra markets as the Ultimate USB Modem, has made the launch possible. To get to 42Mbps, modem and mobile network vendors are implementing a technology called dual carrier, which allows networks to send and receive wireless data using two channels simultaneously.

Sierra announced the AirPrime MC8704 and MC8705, as well. Both modules can handle HSPA+ at download speeds up to 21Mbps. The MC8704 offers voice calling capabilities, while the MC8705 is built for data-centric products.

Commercial shipments of the MC8705 will also start in the fourth quarter, according to Sierra. The AirPrime MC8704 will arrive later, with samples expected to be available early in 2011, it said.

There were 58 live HSPA+ networks in operation at the beginning of August, with a further 43 local operators having made commitments to migrate to the technology soon, according to market research company Wireless Intelligence, the independent research arm of industry organisation GSM Association.