Thursday, August 31, 2006

Verizon V640 ExpressCard, Shipment 2

We shipped our second batch of Verizon's Novatel V640 ExpressCards (1/2 shipped on Wednesday 8/30, the remaining shipped on 8/31/2006). If you ordered one, all backorders have been shipped, check your email for your tracking number. If you have credit problems, check you email and/or voice mail for more information (tip, if you want one, order quickly, as there will be credit cancels and we will ship to the top of the list).

Verizon has once again delayed the official launch of the Verizon V640 (retail stores, indirect channels), until September 7th, 2006. see Verizon's Continued V640 Mislaunch.

After this official launch, ordering a V640 should be more available for immediate shipment (but the demand is still huge). If you are interested in getting one, you should order one, so that you can get in a line. We ship in the order that we receive your V640 order. If we get in a quantity sooner, you will get it sooner.

If you are planning on using the V640 ExpressCard Adapter, be sure to read this first: V640 ExpressCard Adapter Compatibility Warning


Sprint's Merlin S620 RIP


Sprint announced today that the popular Novatel Merlin S620 connection card has been discontinued. As the EVDOguy reported last week, Sprint is moving towards upgrading their system to EVDO Rev A, and it appears the Sprint has decided not to continue selling the S620 card now that the new S720 card is available. For PC customers, the lack of the S620 should not prove to be an issue, since the new S720 works perfectly with the current EVDO and has the benefit of being able to automatically switch to EVDO Rev A as soon as it becomes available. For Mac users, though, this could pose a problem since the new S720 card is NOT supported for Macs quite yet. The EVDO pros at EVDOinfo.com are working on creating drivers so that Mac users will be able to use the S720, but it will be about a week before those modifications are ready. If you are a Mac user and need to purchase a Sprint EVDO card, your current options are as follows:
  • Purchase a Sierra AirCard 580. This is an older card (one of Sprint's first), but it IS supported for Macs and has an antenna port for external antennas.
  • Purchase a Franklin CDU-550 EVDO USB modem. We ship these pre-configured for Macs, so as long as you have an available USB port you will be able to use it. The only problem with this option is that Sprint is currently only selling these to coporate customers with federal tax ids (or EINs); we cannot sell to individuals. Read more about that issue in this article. We are hopeful that Sprint will change their minds and allow individuals to order. When/if that happens, we will report it immediately.
  • Wait for the S720 to be supported for Macs. Since the EVDOinfo team should have the necessary drivers/modifications completed within a week or so, this is the option we recommend (unless you need a card TODAY). If you can afford to wait a week or so for the S720, you will have the newest card and will not have to buy a new card when Rev A becomes available!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

EVDO USB Modems, Here They Come


EVDO USB Rules!

Many manufacturers are finally realizing that consumers want their EVDO in the USB form factor. Franklin has released a CDU-550, which is certified on the Sprint network. According to the Franklin EVDO USB Forums, there are many satisfied customers.

Novatel is next in line to have an EVDO USB Modem. They are rumored to be creating a new device for Sprint, which will be out 4th quarter 2006. Latest info, is it will be called Merlin U720.

Today, Sierra Wireless announced that they would introduce a USB EVDO modem in 1st Quarter of 2007.

The only manufacturer that has yet to announce a USB EVDO Modem is Kyocera.

We applaud this direction, since USB is a smart form factor. Not every computer has a PCMCIA slot, not every computer has an ExpressCard. Just about every computer on the planet has a USB connector. A USB form factor brings EVDO to Tablet PCs, Desktops and many laptops with PC Slots (iBook, PowerBook 12, MacBook, etc.).

There is another advantage of an EVDO USB Modem. When you insert a PC Card or ExpressCard into a computer, the card is very close to the RF interference of the computer. This interference or noise can impact the EVDO signal. If you can move the EVDO Modem away from this noise, you can actually improve the performance.

Sprint Mobile Broadband Now $59.99: No Cell Phone Required!

At $79.99 per month for customers without a Sprint or Verizon cell phone, EVDO service has been out of reach for a lot of users. Both carriers have offered a cheaper $59.99 rate to customers that have a cell phone with their company and agree to a 2-year contract for the EVDO service, but if you didn't have a Sprint or Verizon cell you were forced to pay the $79.99 rate regardless of the contract length.

In a move that will save a lot of people a good chunk of change, Sprint announced last week that the $59.99 monthly rate is now available to ALL customers that sign a 2-year contract for their EVDO service, whether or not they have a Sprint/Nextel cell phone! The rate for 1-year contracts is still $79.99 per month, but mathematically it doesn't seem to make much sense for anyone to choose a 1-year contract, as you will save $125 on the card itself and $240 per year by going with a 2-year contract ($20/month x 12 months) - - even if you cancel after 1 year ($200 cancelation fee), you still come out ahead $165!

We've already seen an increase in the number of people signing up for Sprint's service and taking advantage of the cheaper pricing. Verizon's pricing remains the same as it always has been ($79.99 per month for both 1- and 2-year contracts, and $59.99 per month for customers that have a Verizon cell phone AND sign up for a 2-year contract), but we wonder how long it will take until they are pressured into lowering their rates as well. We're crossing our fingers for lower rates across the board!

To discuss this, see the following thread on EVDOForums.com:
Sprint Mobile Broadband, $59.99/mo. No Cell Phone Needed

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sierra ExpressCard 597E EVDO Rev A Announced


An EVDO Rev A ExpressCard, that works with MacBook Pros? Don't get too excited, Sierra is only announcing that this will be available 1st quarter 2007 (so we are 3-6 months away from being able to purchase this - probably from Sprint?)

Sierra is trying to slow down the sales of the Novatel V640 ExpressCard (Available only on Verizon's network) which doesn't have any competition, since it is the only ExpressCard on the market. The Novatel V640 is an EVDO Rev 0 version, and the newly announced Sierra ExpressCared 597E is based on the next version of EVDO, EVDO Rev A. Sprint and Verizon have yet to upgrade their network to support these faster speeds - but they are working on them now.

Other Important Features include:

- EVDO Rev A (compatible with EVDO Rev 0 and 1xRTT)
- Built-in GPS (aGPS)
- fixed antenna
- External Antenna port
- ExpressCard-to-PC Card adapter (We hope it works better than the Novatel ExpressCard Adapter - which has issues if you are running CardBus vs. CardBay)

Discuss Sierra ExpressCard 597E on EVDOforums.com

V640 ExpressCard Adapter Compatibility Warning

We were initially very excited to hear about the ExpressCard Caddy, which was finally called the ExpressCard Adapter. It is a device that allows you to insert an ExpressCard into an adapter and use it in a standard PCMCIA slot.

Very cool idea...

However, after getting our hands on one, we are very disappointed in the compatibility of this device.

There are 2 types of PCMCIA adapters: Cardbus or Cardbay. Many new laptops will have CardBus, however, the majority of laptops use CardBay. CardBay is not compatible.

The ExpressCard Adapter didn't work in any PowerBook, Kyocera KR1 Router, Top Global Routers and MANY PCs that we tested.

It all comes down to if your device supports CardBay vs. CardBus. For more information on determining which one your PC has, see:

Novatel V640 ExpressCard Adapter Compatibility Cardbus vs. Cardbay

For those of you who have tested the ExpressCard Adapter and would like to report if it worked or didn't, you can report your results on EVDOforums at the following thread: ExpressCard to PC Card Adapter Success/Failure

Eventually, when Verizon decides to have a retail launch of the V640, we expect that the ExpressCard Adapter will cause more V640 returns because the uneducated reps at the Verizon stores will tell them it works - customers will get home and find out otherwise.

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.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Verizon's Continued V640 Mislaunch

Much to the chagrin of hundreds of eagerly waiting ExpressCard-enabled computer users, the powers that be at Verizon have decided to push back the release date of the V640 yet again. Verizon has been vague about the launch of this product for months now. In the beginning of August we were assured by Verizon that we would receive close to 200 ExpressCards by the 11th - they later reneged and we had to scramble to convince them to ship us just 120 (not nearly enough to fulfill our preorders)! That first shipment of 120 ExpressCards was shipped to customers immediately, and we were subsequently assured that Verizon would be able to supply us with another batch on August 23rd - today.

I'm sure you can guess where this story is heading: Verizon has once again decided to withold their product from their customers. They have decided to delay the Retail Launch of the Novatel V640. The ExpressCards were not released to Verizon stores or to Booster-Antenna today, and they have refused to announce a firm date that they will become available, other than to say that they will be released in another 1 or 2 weeks. This leaves a plethora of potential customers out in the cold, including many who preordered several weeks ago and were not one of the first 120 that were shipped on the 11th. For those that have a V640 on backorder, there is a chance that we may get some in by Monday. We will post more information soon.

Verizon's continual misleading of both their agents and their customers has left a lot of people frustrated and could possibly damage their credibility as a trustworthy business. They have a guaranteed hot item in the Novatel V640 ExpressCard, but their hesitation with the release is eventually going to force customers to look to other providers to fulfill their Internet needs. However, since ExpressCards are not available from Sprint, there are not many choices, except to wait it out.

Verizon EVDO: Not Really Unlimited!

Verizon's current EVDO plan is advertised as an unlimited usage plan, but is that really the case? Most subscribers - 98% - go about their online business, surfing the web, checking email, and never hear a peep from Verizon. However, Verizon is monitoring bandwidth usage and a few customers have had their accounts terminated for overuse!!!

There is no
published limit for Verizon users, but there appears to be an "unwritten" usage cap. Most of the people who we have heard from were axed by Verizon for transfering 5-10gb per month for at least 3 consecutive months, but others have been canceled for using just 3 gb in one month. Verizon looks at the "average" use of the other customers using the towers to determine if you have used an inordinate amount of bandwidth (in other words, if you are using 75% of the bandwidth from a certain tower, it is cheaper/easier for Verizon to terminate your account than to add extra capacity to that tower). The customers that we've heard from did report high levels of usage, including downloading large files daily and streaming video and music. Once Verizon had determined that they were using "too much" bandwidth, the customers were sent letters informing them of their impending termination and their service was disconnected within 3 days. They were not charged a service termination fee (if it was the customer's decision to cancel in the middle of their contract, they would, of course, be charged a $175 fee).

Again, most Verizon EVDO users will never have a problem with overusage and can continue their regular Internet habits. For people that plan on doing a lot of streaming or using SlingBox or Bittorrent, it may be a good idea to
monitor your usage within VZAccess Manager to make sure you won't be the next recipient of an unwanted cancellation notice! If you know that you require a lot of bandwidth each month and are concerned about getting terminated, a switch to Sprint EVDO might be worth considering. We haven't heard a single report about someone being terminated for overusage on Sprint's network - thus far, anyway! If that changes, we will post the information here immediately.

If you are one of the unlucky few that has
already been terminated, you do have options. Your card still belongs to you and can be activated under a your business' federal tax ID or your spouse/friend/sibling's social security number. You can also sell the card on Ebay if you decide to try Sprint EVDO.

To read more about the Verizon termination issue read the Verizon Terminated My Service! thread at EVDOforums.com. If you have any experience with Verizon's overuse policy, please share your story!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Franklin CDU-550 Issues

Despite a few blips on the road to USB Modem bliss, the Franklin devices have been activating and shipping out on schedule (the activation process is taking slightly longer than we would like - about 24 hours - but is generally painless). Booster-Antenna.com has been preactivting and configuring the modems for everyone that ordered new Sprint service, so the device is essentially plug-and-play once those customers receive it from us. Customers that ordered the USB modem without service (i.e., they wanted to transfer an existing contract onto the new device) were initially having trouble getting Sprint to do the swap for them; Sprint reps were claiming to have never heard of the device and believed the ESNs to be invalid. This problem stems from the fact that, since Sprint does not sell these modems directly, very few of their employees are familiar with the product and assume that Sprint does not support or recognize the device. Rest assured that the Franklin CDU-550 USB EVDO Modem is in fact certified by Sprint for use on their network! We have discovered that the "trick" to getting your contract moved over to your new USB device is to NOT mention the product by name when you call (it will just confuse them). Simply call the customer support line at 888-211-4727 and state that you have a new device and would like to do an "ESN swap" on your account. They will then ask you for your ESN, which is on both the device and the box, and your USB modem can be activated very quickly. Make sure you take a good look at the ESN, though, as some people have mistaken the letter "B" for the number "8" - that will cause the ESN to be invalid! In the current crop of Franklin modems being shipped out, the ESN starts with 3B. Check out the discussion at the EVDO Forums for the up-to-the-minute news on users' experiences with the new USB EVDO modem.

Update: Activations for Franklin USB Modems went much smoother.

Monday, August 21, 2006

EVDO Antennas: Which one is the BEST?

People often ask "which antenna is the BEST one?", but a better question to ask would be "which antenna is right for MY NEEDS?" Verizon and Sprint offer several different EVDO cards (including the new ExpressCard, yay!), and most of them are equipped with an antenna port for attaching an external EVDO antenna (the Audiovox 5740 card does not have an antenna port). Booster-Antenna.com sells 3 different types of antenna, all of them road-tested and chosen for their proven reliability and signal-boosting power. Since EVDO is not currently available in every area of the country, many people find themselves requiring an antenna to help draw in the signal or boost their 1xRTT speeds, but they are not sure which one is right for them. Antenna choice is based on where you use your EVDO, how strong your signal is without an antenna, how much you are willing to spend, whether you desire to travel with it, and many other factors. Read on for more information!

Indoor Antennas:
The classic Booster Antenna (right) is by far the most popular EVDO antenna sold at Booster-Antenna.com. It is perfect for users who get 1-3 signal bars (if you're already getting 4 bars it won't improve the signal significantly; if you are getting NO signal it will also not help). Customers have reported increases from 45% signal strength all the way up to 100%. Its small size (about 6" tall) make it easy to travel with, and it doesn't need to be pointed directly at the tower to operate (although performance can be improved by testing it in different areas/directions). It can be used on a desktop or attached to a window via the included suction cups. The Magnetic Mount antenna (left) is also small and portable (12" tall), but requires a magnetic surface to stick to AND to act as a ground plane!


Outdoor Antennas:
Both the Omnidirectional and Yagi antennas are mountable, outdoor-use antennas; they are not portable like the booster and the mag-mount. The omnidirectional antennas work for structures, boats and cars/trucks/RVs. The yagi antennas are generally only used for static mounting on structures, though some die-hard RV'ers don't mind the setup and enjoy the benefits where the have good line of site. The best external omni dual-band antenna (right) tested so far is the one we carry -we wouldn't carry it if it wasn't the best. In all but one case (marine omni) the Omni External Antenna surpassed the performance of all other outdoor omni antennas by a notable margin (the other antennas could not connect to the nearby EVDO network, even with an EVDO-locked card, and when in 1xRTT-only mode had much lower signal levels and higher latency). Runner up was a dual-band marine omni (which costs nearly twice as much). After repeated tests the marine omni came in 2nd place because of 30-45% lower upload rates (with and without a signal amplifier). For marine environments the dual-band marine omni would be a good choice though, due to the sealed enclosure which eliminates salt corrosion on the antenna element and resulting loss of power.

Unlike the Omnidirectional antennas, which pull in the signal from all directions and do not have to be directed towards a particular tower, Yagi antennas only work if you have unobstructed pathways to the tower you're connecting to. Do not buy one unless you are certain you have a clear "view" of the tower! You might get lucky blowing through a narrow line of tall leafless trees, but you really ought to be clear of anything. Once those trees have leaves, moisture or snow on them your conditions will change drastically.
That said, the best yagi antennas tested so far are the Wilson Cellular yagis tuned for 'cellular'/800MHz or 'PCS'/1900MHz. Runners-up were the Digital Antenna yagis, also tuned to 800MHz or 1900MHz.

In addition to the Booster, Mag-Mount and Omni antennas, Booster-Antenna.com also sells a signal amplifier for people in serious need of signal improvement. Check out the antennas and amplifiers here, and make sure to check out the discussion at the forums!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Franklin USB Modems Update - It Helps to Have Friends in High Places...











I spoke with a very high-up person at Sprint for quite a while on Friday and they are working on solving the "no sales to individuals" problem ASAP. Not sure when it will happen, but it will happen, possibly as soon as this week (but don't hold your breath yet, as these things always seem to take longer than promised)! We don't have all the details, but Sprint wants to sell more $59.99/month plans and we convinced him that this is a great way to make that happen.

STAY TUNED - Booster-Antenna.com should be selling CDU-550, USB EVDO modems to individuals SOON!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Franklin CDU-550 USB Modems - Trouble in Paradise!

A lot of people (including the EVDOguy!) have been waiting a loooong time for a USB solution for EVDO, and when Sprint announced that they had certified the Franklin device for use on their network it solved a lot of problems for a lot of non-PC-card-compatible computer users! People lined up to preorder the modems and eagerly awaited their arrival. Booster-Antenna received the USB modems today (left, in all their much-anticipated glory!) and was prepared to ship them to a score of customers...

Sprint, however, had different plans.

With no advance warning and essentially no reason given, Sprint abruptly made the decision to ban the sale of the Franklin USB devices to individuals - they will be selling them EXCLUSIVELY to corporate clients (people that place the order with their business' Federal Tax ID as opposed to their personal social security # and birthdate).

NO reason was given for this sudden change in policy. Sprint agreed to honor the preorders from individuals, but refused to give them the $150 credit that was originally promised (and will still be given to corporate clients)! After the preorders are shipped, NO additional USB modems will be sold to individual customers.

As of right now, it looks like the only option for individuals wishing to purchase the Franklin USB modem (except for the pre-orders - those orders will go through) is to order it under a Federal Tax ID as a business (which, of course, only helps a paltry few customers that happen own a business).


There may be ways to work around this in the future, and its also possible that Sprint will be releasing their own USB modem eventually. For the immediate future, though, customers without PC card slots will have to either switch to Verizon to use the ExpressCard or use an EVDO router to access the EVDO network.

Read our complete CDU-550 Franklin EVDO USB Review.


Friday, August 11, 2006

ExpressCards Started Shipping

Novatel V640 ExpressCard Starts To Ship

MacBook Pro and other ExpressCard laptops finally have EVDO from Verizon


Booster-Antenna.com (our sales web site), started shipping the Novatel V640 Express Card on August 10, 2006. That shipment didn't cover all our backorders, BUT a lucky 120 customers now have the ExpressCards.

We are expecting another ExpressCard shipment around August 23/24th and will be fulfilling backorders in the order they were placed.

If you are wanting (or needing one), we encourage you to order, so you can get in line to get one. We do not charge your credit card until we ship.

Special promotional pricing of $99 for 2 year (Verizon charding $179 for the same 2 year). Option to purchase a booster antenna for $34.99 extended until August 23.

Verizon is not yet taking orders for Novatel V640 without service. These will be available after August 23, 2006

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Welcome to the EVDOinfo's Blog

Are you an EVDO fan? A potential user? A techie always searching for a "fix" of tech news and rumors? You have come to the right spot!

You may know us from our popular EVDO information site, EVDOinfo.com, or perhaps you've even placed an order for one of our great products at Booster-Antenna.com. We also run EVDOforums.com, a great place for EVDO users to share their tips and troubles with the EVDO community. If it's EVDO-related, EVDOguy's got the scoop, and now you can come here to check up on the juciest tidbits every day. Rumors (will Sprint ever release an ExpressCard solution?), news (the Novatel v640 is still backordered), hot topics (help! I bricked my KR1!), EVDO product reviews (just what is it that makes the KR1 so great?) - - - they'll all be addressed here.

Check in with the EVDOguy frequently...the info he'll divulge here may not be available anywhere else on the web!