The most common term, M2M Modem, is generally the least accurate because it is a very broad term coming from its days when acoustically coupled MOdulator DEModulator (MO-DEM) devices converted data signals to fit the transport medium available (POTS lines). An M2M modem would not have much device level intelligence. Devices with no routing capabilities, which run on AT commands or require an external device manager and have no local sophisticated Operating System or OS, are the most like an M2M modem
Today, wireless modem, is a generic term that refers to essentially all radio connection devices for cellular, satellite, private radio, and 802.11x wireless networks.
M2M gateways or intelligent wireless gateways such as the AirLink® Raven X work in the cellular radio space and add intelligence to the activity of connecting a device to the internet. They will translate a private local IP to a public network IP assigned by the cellular service carrier. They can provide VPN tunnels, modem level password security, keep alive pings, automatic timed restarts, Network Time Protocol updates from US atomic clocks, and IP block and IP white (friendly IP) lists these features are some of the intelligence in intelligent gateways. They can also have some routing capabilities, although this is not their forte. The gateway connects a local private device or local private network to the carriers public network and the internet. These are sometimes considered, intelligent modems.
M2M routers or intelligent wireless routers such as the Digi Transport and Sierra Wireless GX-440 perform all the functions of a wireless gateway, and add sophisticated routing capabilities as well as multiple Ethernet and/or WLAN connections. These capabilities involve port forwarding or mapping and port routing, something USAT engineers spend time designing and refining for our clientele. The single public IP assigned from the carrier may be mapped in the M2M router so that one port of the single public IP is mapped to a camera, another to a sensor, and another to manage the M2M router, and another to a locally connected network for web access.
Although there are technical differences between modem, M2M gateway, M2M router, wireless modem, wireless gateway, and wireless router, the terms are often used interchangeably. The best option is to let USAT navigate platform and device differentiation as it applies to your needs.