I am writing this blog posting from the food court of a local mall between the TCBY and the Cinnibon. No, this mall does not have anything as great as free wi-fi. Instead I am trying out a new service from Verizon using the emerging EVDO (Evolution-Data Optimized) wireless data standard. EVDO is being offered by a number of cell phone providers using their networks. To use EVDO you need to have special hardware which comes in the form of a PCCard for the PowerBook, or the new express card version for the MacBook Pro. USB versions of the cards will soon become available.
So how well does it work? Pretty well. Having connectivity even more widely available than what is provided by Wi-fi is very addictive. The download speed feels faster than dialup but slower than DSL. The upload speed is much less impressive. Recently it took me 2 hours to upload a 15Mb mp3 file for the latest episode of my podcast. Not impressive speed except that I was driving 65 MPH at the time up highway 101 in California and during that 2 hour period it was connected to my companies VPN server without losing its connection. I also tested it on a commuter train from San Jose to San Francisco and this is the kind of technology that could get me to take the train more often.
I have tried both the Sprint service and the Verizon service and both work well, although the setup with Sprint on a Mac was simpler (you put in the card). Verizon seems to require installing their software. Cost for the service is around $70 a month with flat rate pricing for data.