Quest for 4G Gets Murkier

Sprint 4G thumb

The news that the Sprint 4G network was turned on in Houston got me excited with the thought of upgrading from a mere 3G solution. I considered an Overdrive modem with Sprint to get me some 4G to share with my mobile gear. I was about to pull the trigger on the Overdrive when I started seeing that many were having problems with the device. I cooled my heels on the idea and considered waiting for Sprint to release the HTC EVO phone this summer. Unfortunately a recent admission by HTC has left me thinking this isn’t the way to go either.

The Sprint EVO from HTC is going to be the most powerful Android phone when it hits this summer. It has hardware components second to none, and when you throw 4G into the mix it is easily the phone to beat. To take advantage of the 4G connectivity, Sprint and HTC are putting a mobile hotspot solution on the EVO. This turns the EVO into an Overdrive-like 4G router that can share the 4G connection with up to 8 other devices. It uses the phone’s Wi-Fi connectivity to dish the 4G out for use with other gadgets.

This sounds like the perfect solution as it is all done on the phone which is already in the pocket. No need to bring a separate gadget to provide the mobile broadband connection. As compelling as this sounded, I was leaning away from this solution, as I am concerned that sharing the 4G will rapidly drain the phone battery. That got me considering the Overdrive option in the first place instead of the EVO. The problems with the Overdrive, however, brought me back to consider the EVO.

I was just about to settle on the HTC EVO for my 4G connectivity when word appeared that has stopped me yet again. It seems that HTC has acknowledged that the EVO will not be able to be used for data and voice calls at the same time. The company admits it’s not a hardware limitation, but doesn’t elaborate on why this won’t be possible. They don’t rule out adding the ability in the future, but state at launch the phone will not be able to do data and voice simultaneously.

AT&T must be chuckling at this, given its commercials dissing Verizon for the same limitation. I don’t find it too funny because it’s a deal breaker for me. I can’t have my phone unavailable for hours at a time when I use the 4G mobile hotspot capability on the phone. Battery concerns aside, my phone is important and must be ready to use no matter what. I’m not willing to keep dropping data connectivity to answer a call.

Now I am considering my options once again. I am leaning toward taking my chances with the Overdrive modem with Sprint. While some report problems with them, others are telling me theirs works fine. The call for speedy 4G connectivity may win me over in the end.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Everybody Hertz: The Looming Spectrum Crisis


Comments have been disabled for this post