Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sprint Rolls Out Their First EVDO Rev A Card!

EVDO Rev A has been a hot topic amongst techies for quite a while now, and Sprint has been upgrading their network to support the new technology. They have quietly released the Novatel Merlin s720 EVDO Rev A card, and it is available NOW! The s720 is a PC card (so it won't work for those of you with ExpressCard-only computers) and it's very similar to the Merlin s620 card: the s720 accepts the same external antenna adapter as the s620, and the VZAccess Manager software supports both cards for those of you who might be switching back and forth during testing. We're not sure if it comes with Mac-compatible software, but we have ordered one for testing so we will know soon (if it doesn't support Mac, the geniuses at EVDOinfo.com will likely be able to adapt some drivers to make it compatible).

The difference between the Rev A technology and the existing EVDO is pretty significant. Rev A will have less latency than the current EVDO and will be able to handle VOIP. The speeds will be quite a bit faster, especially for uploading:
  • dowloads up to 3.1Mbps (average will likely be 600Kbps - 1.0Mbps)
  • upload to 1.8Mbps (average will likely be 400Kbps - 600Kbps)
Sprint has only upgraded a small percentage of their towers to Rev A status, but they're moving fast. We hear that Sprint EVDO Rev A will be able to reach 40 million people by the end of the year, and 200 million by the end of next year. The card is backwards-compatible with the current EVDO, meaning that if you're in an EVDO area that hasn't upgraded yet you can still access the current EVDO with the new card. Even if your area isn't "Rev A" yet, you can purchase the Merlin S720 now and use it to connect to the current EVDO until your neighborhood tower switches over, at which point you'll automatically be able to connect to the Rev A! There S720 won't garner any extra benefits while used in an EVDO area; it will perform just like its sibling the S620.

The card is $99.99 with a new 2-yr Sprint contract (and $59.99 per month) or $174.99 with a 1-yr Sprint contract (and $79.99 per month). You can buy the card now - Sprint reportedly has about 500 currently available, and we know they'll go fast!

Compare Rev A and the current EVDO at EVDOforums.com

Discuss the Merlin S720 on EVDOforums.