I am working away in the local coffee shop but not partaking of the Wi-Fi, at least not the store’s. I brought my own Wi-Fi in the shape of the little Sprint Overdrive 3G/4G modem. I have my MacBook, iPad and iPhone 3G plugged into 4G.

Overdrive Mac

I am working away in the local coffee shop but not partaking of the Wi-Fi, at least not the store’s. I brought my own Wi-Fi in the shape of the little Sprint Overdrive 3G/4G modem. I have been evaluating the Overdrive for a few days and this morning I did something crazy — I went to a Sprint store and bought one. I never could get the evaluation unit to connect to the Sprint 4G network near me, and reached the point I was confident the unit was defective. So I got my own to replace my Verizon MiFi and its measly 3G connectivity.

I have been on the Sprint 4G network for all of two hours and it is as good as I thought it would be. The speed with my MacBook is outstanding, I am seeing around 3 Mbps downloads and almost 1 Mbps uploads. This speed is being served to both my MacBook and my iPad over the Overdrive’s Wi-Fi routing capability, and with one exception it is working great.

I can tell that working on a laptop over 4G is almost as good as my high-speed connection at home. Once connected things pop, and it doesn’t feel like a mobile solution at all. It is game changing, frankly.

The Overdrive is configurable using any web browser over the internal Wi-Fi connection. I am going to experiment with this configuration as I am seeing a problem with the iPad maintaining a connection to the modem for very long. I have seen others reporting this problem online, and my gut feeling is it is due to the Overdrive handling multiple Wi-Fi protocols. By default it auto-switches between 802.11 b and g (no draft-n, unfortunately), and my gut tells me this switching is what is giving the iPad problems staying connected. I am going to force the Overdrive to work in 802.11g only and see how that works.

The Overdrive automatically connects to the Sprint 4G network when it is detected, and drops down to the 3G (EVDO) network when 4G is not available. This makes it a total replacement for the MiFi, with the additional benefit of 4G. Throw in the unlimited data on 4G and it is a no-brainer.

Right this moment I have my MacBook, iPad and iPhone 3G all connected to Sprint 4G using the Overdrive, and life is good. I love mobile tech.

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  1. I’ve been having a similar problem getting my iPad to stay connected to my MiFi (which provides all of my home Internet access). Please keep us posted on whether your forced-g tactic works!

    1. James Kendrick Scott Friday, April 16, 2010

      Interestingly, I’ve been using my iPad with my MiFi without trouble since getting the iPad. It’s only with the Overdrive that I started seeing this problem.

      1. Care to share your MiFi settings?

      2. Check to see if you the latest firmware rev. I had a similar problem. Once I upgraded the firmware, the problem disappeared. I believe the most current Wi-Fi Firmware rev is 01.07.00.

    2. James Kendrick Scott Friday, April 16, 2010

      I used all the default MiFi settings.

    1. I’ve kept up with all that but have experienced no Wi-Fi issues save with the Overdrive.

  2. Dennisvjames Friday, April 16, 2010

    James Kudos to you…you continue to be one of my mobile heroes. While a lot of other blogs merely rephrase the press release, you actually use this darn stuff. And usually while everyone else is still trying to open up the box!!!


    Keep up the good work.

  3. Perhaps I’m missing something, but 3 down 1 up does not seem indicative of 4G speeds at all. Doesn’t HSDPA offer faster 7 down 2 up speeds? What kind of speeds are you getting on 3G James?

    Curoius, since I’m looking to tether a HSDPA device for mobile use.

    1. My 3G connectivity has always been about 1 down and .5 up. That’s with both Verizon and Sprint. HSDPA does spec faster, but real world is always around half any quoted speeds in my experience. My quoted speeds are always real world speeds that I have gotten consistently.

      1. Great info – thanks!

  4. 3Mbps down doesn’t seem that good to me for 4g. I currently have the Verizon MiFi and consistently get about 2.5Mb down and 700-1Mb up. I’ve heard that if you are not right on top of a 4g tower the Overdrive speeds drop drastically. If it’s an improvement for you that great, but for the extra fees I don’t think I’d be too happy. Thanks for the write-up.

    1. The Sprint 4G fee is the same as the Verizon 3G fee ($60/month). The 4G is truly unlimited, the 3G is the same 5 GB cap as Verizon, and Sprint even throws in 250 MB/ month of roaming on the Verizon 3G network when needed. Not anything extra at all.

      Your Verizon MiFi speeds are excellent. I’ve never gotten that good consistently.

      1. I am running a 3g att air card and over max my 5000 gb every month this past month an extra 174.00 has been added to my bill. I checked with clear 4g and they dont service my area. Is that the same with sprint 4g only serving certain areas? Iam 20 minutes from down town dallas tx. and verision land line is our only option for landlines.
        my att 3g is sooo slow most of the time, it frequently shuts off, geek squad checked my puter, att store never would fix the problem.Is there a solution

      2. @David Maki

        Go to http://coverage.sprint.com/IMPACT.jsp?ECID=vanity:coverage and enter your address. After the page laods showing your location, click on the ‘Data, Email and Multimedia tab bar beneath the default ‘Voice Coverage’ bar. Then click on ‘Sprint Devices with 4G.’ Voila.

      3. Oh, I thought the 4G was more expensive and also had the same 5 GB cap…good to know!

  5. Did you get this free case from sprint. I LIKE IT, and want one, but not ready to move away from my UNLIMITED sprint contract using a cradlepoint. I think the CPT router would fit in there nicely.


    1. That’s a nice case! No, I didn’t get one. :(

  6. mobile.fernandez Friday, April 16, 2010

    When the Overdrive up or downshifts between 3G and 4G, does it indicate it?

    Do you lose your IP address when this happens? In other words, when you’re streaming data, does it stop and have to re-establish an IP or is it seamless?

    1. Yes it clearly indicates what network it is connected to. I don’t think switching is seamless. I can’t see why it would switch between 4G and 3G in the same spot, and I haven’t used it moving.

  7. Ivan Samuels Friday, April 16, 2010

    Can you comment on the length of time it takes to boot the Overdrive as compared to your Mifi?

    1. The MiFi connects in about 30 seconds upon boot. The Overdrive can take a minute or longer.

  8. I am surprised your speeds are that slow.. I typically average almost double sometimes triple those speeds in Maryland

    1. James Kendrick SU Friday, April 16, 2010

      This was with 20 – 40% signal strength.

    2. Where have you tested in MD? I’ve only seen 1Mbps at best on their 4G network, that’s on a good day. :(. I’ve done 4G speed tests in Rockville, MD and Arlington, VA. Curious to know what your signal strength averages at too, I haven’t seen anything above 40% with 4G.

      1. Baltimore is currently the only launched market in Maryland.

  9. Thanks for the great article. I’m seriously considering canceling my Verizon line when Sprint’s 4g finally hits Southern California. 60 bucks for unlimited 4g and 5gb 3g is a really sweet deal.

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