EVDO Wireless Connectivity – A First Look

Written by: Chris Christensen

Categories: News, Reviews

EVDO cardI 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.

There are 11 comments on EVDO Wireless Connectivity – A First Look:

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  1. Darren Klug | Sep 13 2006 - 03:40

    Isn’t it possible to use Bluetooth connectivity to certain cell phone models instead of having to deal with a card (with protruding antenna, at least on the models that I saw), or worse on the move, a USB “dongle?” You may give up a bit of (at least downstream?) bandwidth, but choosing the right phone (if possible?) may be a better option than the specialized hardware (especially for the iBook/MacBook).

  2. Victor | Sep 13 2006 - 06:12

    I have been using a PCMCIA , EVDO Card on my G4 Powerbook since Jan of this year. It’s very reliable service and I have used it in very remote places (like the middle of Yelllowstone Park), and while my wife was going 65 (yeah right) on the freeway.

    One of the reasons I had not gone to the Mac Book Pro was the lack of EVDO support, however now I have another excuse.

  3. CdtDelta | Sep 13 2006 - 08:46

    I got the Verizon EVDO ExpressCard when it first came out, and you do not have to install the Verizon software to make it work (in fact, I tried it and it caused more problems for me). OSX has native drivers for the Novatel V640 (the Verizon card). You just have to configure it to connect to the network (which takes about 5 minutes to do).
    The best place to get information on EVDO equipment is http://www.evdoforums.com. They have the information there on how to set it up.

  4. chris2x | Sep 13 2006 - 09:47

    Good to know CdtDelta, I was going to try uninstalling the Verizon software to test it which is why I put in “seems” in the article. Thanks!

  5. chibianh | Sep 13 2006 - 02:19

    I’ve been using the Sprint Mobile Broadband service with the Franklin USB modem with my MacBook and it works well. We have other workers here too with laptops that have no PCMCIA card and the usb modem works well for them.

  6. bignick | Sep 13 2006 - 11:54

    Hey chibianh I’ve been using Sprint’s regular 144 kbps service with the Sierra AirCard 550 for about three years. Although it is kind a slow it works all the time while I’m cruising constantly between 7-8 states in the Midwest. When I got it Sprint was saying we don’t support Apple and Apple was saying we don’t support Sprint. Luckily for me a friend of mine found about a company called Stretched Out Software which was making driver for the card and I was able to move the card from my old PC to my new PowerBook G4 17″. Every time I see a Sprint Store I will ask the ignorants inside if they know anything about EVDO Express Card and most of them have no idea. I was able to get some information from Sprint customer service representative that they will introduce USB modem after the New Year. Please elaborate more on how your Franklin USB modem works ahd how you got it. I’m waiting on this issue so I can upgrade my three years old G4 to a MacBook Pro. Although Verizon already has the card it is not an option for me because there is a spotty service where I live. The New Treo 700P comes with EVDO but it seems little steep spending in less than a year $600 again to upgrade my Treo 650 and than use it as a modem, charging it separately, not been able to make phone calls, etc. Frankly if its not for the QuickBooks-Parallels-Windows combination I am keeping my G4 until most programs become universal.

  7. tinay70 | Sep 14 2006 - 01:25

    Cool! You are trying to tempt me. Did you mention its price?

  8. txjcfsr | Sep 14 2006 - 06:15

    I have a 12″ PB 1.33MHZ G4, anyone have any idea of how to use a USB connection for EVDO? Is it possible, where do I get it, etc., etc., etc….

    Thanks in advance.

  9. chibianh | Sep 14 2006 - 09:39

    bignick, check out https://booster-antenna.com/sprint/usb.php and their support forums at http://www.evdoinfo.com

    These guys have great Mac Support and I’m sure they can help you with any questions you have. I got my Sprint Mobile Broadband service and Franklin USB modem through them.

  10. tonylimo | Sep 18 2006 - 08:06

    i like to know when i will be able to use EVDO with VERIZON on a MACBOOK.It has no express card slot so will it work with the USB? Will it be coming out in the future ?

  11. EVDO guy | Sep 19 2006 - 05:07

    All the manufacturers have announced USB devices. The Franklin device is the first one available, it only works with Sprint. Here is a review of it:


    We also wrote a blog entry on the topic at: