Verizon has released their USB720, which is made by the same folks who brought us the Novatel U720 that Sprint has had available since December. Since the hardware is the same, the biggest difference is in the features made available via software.
Verizon has been a longtime favorite of Mac users, because Verizon ships true Mac applications to manage EVDO connections. Its no different with the new USB720. Verizon updated their VZAccess Manager to include connections with the USB720. Aside from showing signal strength and network type (RevA/Rev0), VZAM allows Mac users to activate the USB720, and update firmware/PRL's.
Sprint provides Mac drivers that allow their U720 to connect to EVDO networks. Thats it. No GUI. No Mac OS X version of their Connection Manager. No way to activate the U720 on a Mac, or update firmware/PRLs. You have to find a PC user, and ask if he will 'Cancel or Allow' for you.
We'll give Sprint credit for doing one thing that Verizon is NOT doing: Sprint does let Windows users of the U720, to take advantage of the U720's built in GPS functionality. Verizon has no plans to let Mac or PC users do that.
Alrighty then. Aside from software differences, what else should you know about how Verizon and Sprint's Rev-A USB Modem offering? Lets break it down for you...
Pricing with 2 year service contract:
Verizon USB720: $119.99 - Mail in Rebate $50, net cost - $69.99
Sprint U720: $99.99 - Mail-in Rebate $50, net cost = $49.99
(the Sprint rebate ends 02/17, act fast)
Verizon USB720: $79.99/mo (if you don't have a Verizon Cell Phone)
$59.99/mo, if you do have a Verizon cell phone
Sprint U720: $59.99/mo (with or without Sprint Cell Phone)
So, if you have a Verizon cell phone, it is just $20 cheaper to get a Sprint Novatel U720 vs. a Verizon USB720, until Sprint's rebate ends on Feb. 17th. If you are NOT a Verizon cell phone customer it will cost you $500 more over the 2 year service contract ($20 up front, plus $20/mo more). If you are a Mac user who wants the most Mac-like experience, you're better off getting the Verizon USB720 because of its wonderful Mac OS X VZAccess Manager.
(The Novatel USB Modem has GPS hardware built in.)
Verizon USB720: No GPS functionality at all.
Sprint U720: Available to Windows users only.
Terms Of Service
Verizon: 5gb 'cap' per month. if you go over, you account gets canceled
(more info: Verizon Terminated My Service - EVDOforums and What does 5GB Get Me?)
Sprint: Unlimited Bandwidth
Verizon: No EVDO Roaming
Sprint: EVDO Roaming arrangement with Alltel
Mac OS X Support
Verizon: Included VZAccess Connection Manager supports Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher
Sprint: No Mac OS X Connection Manager - but drivers are available allowing connection.
EVDO Rev A Network
So, whose is better? Sprint has been rolling it over over the last 4 months or so. Verizon's Rev-A network was first spotted back in December. Verizon recently announced their Rev-A network launching, and though they are blitzing press releases announcing a lot of cities lately, there are quite a few Rev-A markets identified on EVDOmaps that Verizon has not announced as of this article. Right now, its anybody's guess which carrier has more Rev-A network coverage.
Which is better?
The 5GB limit is something everyone needs to consider before going with Verizon. If you go over the limit, you get canceled... no warning, just a letter that says you are terminated. From a price point of view, Sprint Wins! You can save anywhere from $20 - $500 by going with Sprint.
If you are looking to purchase your USB720 or U720 from the EVDO Experts, you can at:
Sprint U720 vs. Verizon USB720 - EVDOforums