Verizon EV-DO arrives

Its not cheap, and its not the fastest, but soon enough 14 cities and tons of airports in the US will fall to the charms of EV-DO, thanks to Verizon Wireless. New York, LA and San Francisco are in the list of cities which will have this service that downloads between 300-to-500 kilobytes per second, and uploads at about 50 kilobits per second. Which is great if you are not updating your website with tons of photos. The service would cost $79.95 a month for unlimited access, but mostly for laptop users who have to spend another $250 ($150 after rebates) on a PC card. This is also a big day for Qualcomm, which is sending out press releases faster than a Paris Hilton press agent. ‘”Verizon Wireless’ progressive rollout of BroadbandAccess validates EV-DO as the technology for high-speed data service and marks a significant milestone in fulfilling the true promise of 3G to wireless subscribers,” said Jeff Jacobs, president of global development, Qualcomm. Also happy – folks from Nortel Networks. Nortel Networks sells Ev-DO gear to eight out of 11 commercially launched 3G CDMA 1xEV-DO networks (Nortel customers with commercial launches include: Verizon, SmartCom PCS (Chile), Pelephone (Israel), Vesper (Brazil), Eurotel Prada (Czech Republic), ACS Wireless (Alaska), BellSouth (Chile), BellSouth (Guatemala).) Of course, this gravy train might be coming to an end. A few points….

  • Its not a DSL replacement: The Times calls it a possible DSL replacement technology. In theory yes, but in practice not really. The $80 a month is twice the price you normally pay for DSL. I think this will be an add on service to your broadband bill. If you share a connection inside your home, well this service doesn’t have the juice.
  • Not as big as it sound: By going with the $80 a month rate, Verizon is limiting the usage to early adopters and business users. Good move, because this gives them room to ramp up the backend and infrastructure without spending too many dollars upfront. The service is going to have a limited uptake – why? Because it is mostly data cards for PC/Laptops which are going to be able to use this service. Secondly, there is only one handset right now which can tap this speed, LG VX8000).
  • EV-DO will not kill GSM carriers: From the first look, GSM guys will be scrambling to meet the high speed challenge. Not really because take out the early adopters, you have a limited market for now. By 2006, when HSDPA becomes available, then the GSM carriers will spend the dollars and rollout the high speed networks. American Technology’s Albert Lin points out that “the GSM camp does not feel the majority of the market is “lost” in the first year to 18 months, so following Verizon by that time frame is certainly not a death blow by any means.”

My excitement over the news is that it will showcase for many users what always on broadband is all about. This wireless connectivity will make applications like IM even more indispensable to the way we communicate. There are other issues – well if too many people start using this network, how does the performance go? Do network speeds drop?


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