Novatel U720 USB EV-DO modem: just what the UMPC doctor ordered


Novatel_u720_1Finally, we’re starting to see a high-speed wireless modem in a small form factor thanks to the Novatel U720 USB modem spotted on the FCC site by Engadget. Eventually, we will see integrated 3G connectivity in the small slate; until then we can can’t can tether a 3G phone via Bluetooth or USB. Another option is a PC card to USB adapter like the U132 we reviewed. Both solutions are less than desirable as they require the carrying of additional equipment and cables. Bluetooth tethering gets rid of the cable, but caps your throughput around 115 Kbps. The U720, however, provides a potentially better solution with only a small USB device. Again, integrated would be ideal, but this might be the next best thing.

Sprint obviously has plans for this Novatel device based on the label. Three immediate questions:

  • Will Verizon follow suit with a similar offering?
  • Will these USB modems provide support for EV-DO Rev. A?
  • Will the small form factor affect the signal strength and therefore, throughput?



The U720 USB Modem is out and it’s one of the most versatile EVDO cards ever. Sure the Franklin was first, but the U720 is the fastest. With Sprint launching the Rev A network all around the country, this is the EVDO modem you need! You can still get one of these for FREE at

James Kelley

I can send you a U720 now, just email me at james.r.kelley @, I can ship them now and give the best discounts.


To answer one of the questions…and one of the MOST Important questions, Yes this is a Rev A Card. This fact alone will make it much more desirable than the Franklin model. this card won’t be available for a while, but can be pre-ordered for free at thanks, ss

Kevin C. Tofel

DP, that’s a fair question and no I haven’t see the Franklin (nor the Nortel for that matter) in person. I agree with your concern on the signal strength as these devices get smaller. Your Franklin model has an actual external antenna if I’m not mistaken; curious to see how this new device from Nortel actually works by comparison as it doesn’t appear to have an external.


Kevin, have you seen the Franklin in person? It’s really not that big. It’s certainly thinner and overall smaller than a PC Card, for example. I hope you’re right, but I honestly can’t believe they could make a modem very much smaller and still have it be useful.

Overall, though, I agree that integrating the cellular modem into a device this small is what makes the most sense. One report I’ve read is that the upcoming P1710 from Fujitsu may include integrated cellular wireless. If so, it’ll once again be the device to beat!

Kevin C. Tofel

JKK, the Bluetooth throughput is dependent on the the supported BT version on both devices; could be 1 or 1.2 which is much slower than 2.0 with EDR.

Kevin C. Tofel

DP, it’s difficult to say until we get more pics, but the Novatel unit looks no bigger than a small USB jump drive or BT dongle. If that’s the case, it would be much less obtrusive than the Franklin. Then again, we can’t know for sure without more details.


You have been talking many times about the issue not getting more than 115 kbps speed when using bluetooth.

This must be an issue in your phone / operator. I’m getting nice 300+ with non hsdpa 3g nokia phone with bluetooth.

Few years ago there was some issues that bt was only 128kbps, but todays phones ( nokia ) can bring all you can eat. Without cables…


Why does everyone act like this will be the first USB EV-DO modem? The Franklin USB modem has been out for a couple of months and I can vouch for the fact that it works very well with my PC Card-less Fujitsu Lifebook P1510D. In fact, judging from the picture, the Franklin may well be a fair bit smaller than this Novatel.

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