Right then, USB 1.1 can be problematic with high current draw devices such as modems etc because normally a single host controller powers all ports. (500mA in total).
Also, many non Intel chipsets have design flaw that means they cannot ramp signals voltages fast enough to USB under load.
I don't know however, if this is still a problem with USB 2.0.
If it is or if you have USB 1.1, there's a few workarounds for it :
Best solution is to use a self powered USB hub. If not, try using shorter cables & disconnect other USB devices when using the modem.