Friday, August 29, 2008

Linksys/Sprint EVDO WRT54G3GV2-ST Router Review Now Online

Linksys/Sprint EVDO WRT54G3GV2-ST Router Review Now Online

Linksys has launched a revised EVDO router for use with 3G mobile broadband devices on Sprint's EVDO network. The Linksys WRT54G3GV2-ST (or 3GV2 for short) allows multiple computers to share a single EVDO connection, rather than having to swap the Sprint EVDO card or USB modem between computers.

The 3GV2 works with current Sprint EVDO devices like the Compass 597 and Ovation U727 USB modems (but not the U680), as well as the Novatel EX720 and Sierra Wireless AirCard 597E ExpressCards (adapter required but not provided).

The 3GV2 also shares the same dimensions as the older version, still has one ethernet WAN port to allow use as a Cable/DSL/Satellite router, four ethernet 10/100 ports for LAN networking, a PCMCIA slot for EVDO cards, and still uses the same WiFi "G" radio and 3.3 dBi external WiFi antenna.

Check out the FULL REVIEW, now online at http://www.EVDOinfo.com/3GV2


Related Links:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Verizon XV6800 Gets EVDO Rev A Upgrade (And More!)

xv6800xv6800
Verizon's XV6800 is a very nice smartphone with its cool slide-up design, nice touch screen, back-lit QWERTY keypad, and relatively compact size (2.3 in x 0.7 in x 4.3 in, 5.8 oz), but it was lacking in a couple areas. For one, internet access was limited to EVDO Rev 0, despite the fact that Sprint's version of the same phone is Rev A compatible; it also contains just 64MB of on-board installed memory. Either one of those oversights might have been a turnoff to potential users, so UTStarcom wised up and created an downloadable upgrade that will improve the functionality of the phone. It's available for FREE on their website, and the upgrades include:
  • VZ Navigator compatibility with built-in GPS
  • Support for memory cards up to 16GB
  • Threaded SMS client
  • Updated MMS client
  • Windows Mobile 6.1 OS
  • Most importantly: access to the EVDO Rev A network
With these new upgrades, Verizon has themselves another top of the line smartphone. The VX6800 now offers essentially all the same capabilities and features as PDAs like Blackberry and Treo, but with a unique design. We'll be testing out how the Rev A speeds on this phone compare to its old Rev 0 browsing speeds ASAP and will post our findings here and on EVDOinfo.com!


Discuss the VX6800 updates on EVDOforums

Friday, August 22, 2008

Verizon Goes Google

Verizon has rebuffed and criticized Google in the past, being the only major operator to publicly denounce Google's Android initiative (a "software stack" they've developed for mobile phones that is based on Java and and includes such features as an integrated browser and media support) and their open-spectrum plan - but they've let bygones be bygones and are working on creating a mutually-beneficial relationship.

The deal, which is currently still in the works, would make Google's search engine the default search option on Verizon's handsets, and Google will in turn give Verizon a share of ad revenues. The main problem at this juncture is Verizon's aversion to Google's desire to save info from the cell phone searches; a stance I'd venture to guess a great deal of consumers can agree with.

According to the report from Yahoo Finance, the deal could be finalized within a couple weeks, so if you're going to be upgrading your Verizon cell soon, be prepared to see Google right on your home screen.

Discuss Verizon's partnership with Google on EVDOforums

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

CradlePoint CTR500/MBR1000 1.3.1 Firmware Provides EVDO / HSPA Load Balancing


The wait, is finally over... CradlePoint has just released Firmware Version 1.3.1 that enables LOAD BALANCING across multiple 3G / EVDO / HSPA cellular devices, and oh yeah - even more EVDO and HSDPA devices for their CTR500 and MBR1000 EVDO / HSDPA routers.

Read more about this exciting new firmware at: http://www.evdoinfo.com/LB

Here's a screengrab showing admin page for EVDO LOAD BALANCING across a Verizon V740 expresscard and a Sprint Compass 597 USB modem.

Here are NEW "U.S. Carrier" devices supported by Firmware 1.3.1
(complete list of supported devices is at 3G Router Compatibility Chart)

Sprint Verizon AT&T nTelos

BlackBerry 8330
Samsung SPH-m520

Palm 700w
UTStarcom UM175

HP iPAQ 910
GT Ultra Express
(requires adapter with
proper voltage)


Franklin CDU680

There were also many "International Carrier" devices supported with this new firmware release:

Rogers
(Canada)
Telus
(Canada)
Generic GSM*

Novatel MC950D
Novatel X950D

Sierra Wireless 595U
Sierra Wireless 597E

Huawei E220
Novatel MC950D
Sierra Wireless 880U
Sierra Wireless 885U
Sierra Wireless 880E

*These devices were tested using the AT&T network in the United States and may or may not work with other UMTS/GSM carriers internationally.

Canadians! -- Don't forget that 3GStore now ships to Canada!

For those ordering the CTR500 or MBR1000 from 3Gstore.com, starting 08/22/2008, we will automatically include a CD that has the latest firmware.

More information is available in the official Firmware 1.3.1 Release Notes (PDF).

Related Links

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

4G Won't Usurp 3G - Yet, Anyway

4G technology LTE (along with WiMAX) may be the wave of the future of wireless service, but does that mean that the progress being made on EVDO and UMTS/HSPA will all be for naught? Will the promise of faster uploads and better cost-effectiveness cause providers to focus more on 4G development or consumers to hold off on subscribing to wireless internet service until 4G service is available? Makes sense, right?

Not necessarily.

Tireless tech researchers ABI are reporting that in just one year the number of EVDO Rev A subscribers jumped an impressive 800%, and they even project that the number could rise to as many as 54 million by 2013 with another 25 million using EVDO Rev B. The improvements that EVDO Rev B and HSPA+ will bring to the market will bring the service close enough to promised LTE speeds - within about 100 Mbps for downloads for HSPA+ - to make migrating to 4G an unnecessary hassle for some customers. Unlike the switches to Rev B and HSPA+, which will likely be very smooth/gradual migrations, LTE adoption will require new components since it operates on an entirely different technology (OFDM).

Obviously, 4G technology will replace the likes of EVDO and HSPA eventually, it just might take a while - such is the usual natural progression of new technology adoption. Even if LTE and WiMAX blow 3G out of the water with everything from speed to devices to cost, it's certainly not going to be an overnight transition.

For more 4G scoop, check out EVDOinfo.com's 4G blog and 4G forums!

Friday, August 15, 2008

DNC Goes 3G With Sprint EVDO

Democratic National Convention attendees may have to worry about altitude sickness later this month, but thanks to Sprint, there's one thing they won't have to worry about: wireless coverage for all their cell phones and EVDO-enabled devices. In anticipation of the thousands upon thousands (upon thousands and thousands... you get the picture) of people that will be converging on the area, Sprint has increased their coverage everywhere from hotels, the airport, downtown Denver, the Pepsi Center, and INVESCO Field, where Obama will be giving his acceptance speech. Network engineers have installed and tested new antenna systems throughout the city and a cell-on-wheels system at INVESCO Field and Sprint's Network Operations Center will be testing their service throughout the event to make sure everyone can stay connected.

It's not just the attendees that will benefit from the extended and enhanced coverage, though. Sprint has partnered with other telecommunications providers to provide wireless coverage to the FBI-created Multi-Agency Communications Center, which will be the communications and security hub for the event.

It speaks volumes about Sprint's coverage in Denver that they have been entrusted with the uber-important responsibility of keeping everyone from the public to the government connected at such a high-profile event. Are they up to the task?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Use Sprint PCS Mail? Not Anymore!


If you've been using Sprint/Nextel's PCS mail service for your email needs, be prepared to make a switch to one of the other providers come the new year. Sprint announced this week that they will be discontinuing their "@sprintpcs.com" email service on December 31st, 2008. Their website provides no reason for the decision, but one can imagine it's most likely an attempt to cut costs in a downward-spiraling economy when Sprint is really looking to invest in the future of 4G services.

While their email service never caught on to the level of, say, Yahoo or Gmail, the folks that have been using their Sprint email addresses for years are going to feel very inconvenienced. Sprint's official website kindly offers directions on how to sign up for AOL, Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail and instructions on how to import your emails and address book, but it doesn't offer any tips on getting all of your friends/family/coworkers to memorize your new address.

Discuss the termination of Sprint PCS mail on EVDOforums

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sprint EVDO: 5GB Cap Crap

Many customers of Sprint's MobileBroadBand EVDO service signed up with an understanding that it was "unlimited"... as in no restriction on how long you can be online (minutes) and no maximum amount of data that could be used.

For the most part, they were right. Unlimited meant they could use it as much as they wanted to.

At least until last May when it was learned that Sprint was going to change its "Terms of Service" (TOS) in such a way that they would now have the right to take action on contracts that consumed more than 5 Gigabytes of data. Here's the relevant part added to TOS:
Sprint reserves the right to limit throughput speeds or amount of data transferred and to deny, terminate, modify, or suspend service if usage exceeds 5GB per month in total or 300MB/month while off-network roaming.
On dozens of internet forums, many interested parties interpreted this text in different ways -- check out this 50+ page thread on EVDOforums.com and you'll find over 750 forum posts discussing what the change in terms really means.

In addition to explanations of phone conversations that members had with Sprint's agents, that forum thread even has some chat transcripts provided by members who discussed the new terms with Sprint online agents. The results were the same no matter which way you played the frustrating game of "agent roulette" -- many official Sprint agents denied any change to the TOS existed, while still other agents gave different scenarios to explain what the new terms meant.

Among the key questions on everyone's mind were:
  1. Are contracts that were in place before the TOS change, "grandfathered" in such a way that their service remained unlimited?
  2. Will existing customers who do not like the change to TOS be allowed to walk away from their contracts without being subject to an early termination fee?
  3. Will customers who exceed 5GB of data consumption be subject to overage charges?
  4. Does this change in terms apply to both individual- and corporate-liable contracts?
As a Sprint Master Agent, 3Gstore took the matter up with as many people in the food chain as we could... and found the same thing everyone else did -- clueless people who had no idea a change occurred or was occurring, and told us "let me get back to you after I research this". What did we learn after these "higher ups" got back to us? That they knew nothing definitive and had as many different explanations as everyone else had already provided.

We finally came across some internal documentation and updated our EVDOinfo article with this text:
The new terms of service described above, will be in place for all accounts created on or after July 13, 2008 - regardless if the account is individual or corporate liable.
We are comfortable stating that much in public. Everything else we wanted to say would be speculation and impossible to substantiate.

What was our opinion? Simple, really. Sprint had NO way to legally take any action against customers who were affecting network performance because of their data consumption.

With the change in their TOS, they would now have a legitimate reason for getting rid of these contracts that were causing problems.

What about all those other important questions? Surely someone had to be able to provide the "real" answers with some way to validate the answers beyond "they told me on the phone".

On July 31st, Sprint officials were involved in a moderated chat on Sprint's own public forums. It was made clear that Tony Jackson was a "Director" at Sprint, and that he and his team would be "discussing the answers to each of the questions to ensure they are providing accurate information".

Alrighty then, lets submit a question and see what answer we get:
EVDOinfo asked: Is sprint actively notifying ALL customers who exceed 5gb per billing month, and if so, what exactly is being told to these customers?

Tony Jackson : As you know, today the phone-as-modem option cannot be added to the Simply Everything plan. We are always evaluating our policies but currently do not have any plans to change this policy.
My immediate reaction upon seeing the question and answer was: "Hmmm... WTF?"

Actually, I wasn't surprised. It was straight up stupidity and from a Director, no less. No wonder all the lesser agents don't have a clue, right?

Time passed slowly, and a few minutes later they dance with this:
Tony Jackson : Clarification... prior answer was specific to SE and phone as modem. Answer to the 5Gb question shortly...
"Specific to SE" meant his answer had to do with a question about the "Simply Everything" plan... but hold up... there was NO prior question posted that related to an SE plan. Not by me, not by anyone. Sigh.

More time passes. And I mean slowly. I've been "chatting" online for over 15 years and never before have I endured so little actual "chatter" in an hour, than I experienced in this moderated chat. There were only a total of eleven "questions" posted, even though the forum asked for questions in advance and took live questions like mine. Its ridiculous to think that this "team" did not have proper/accurate answers prepared in advance. Finally, there was this:
Tony Jackson : Re: Is sprint actively notifying ALL customers who exceed 5gb per billing month, and if so, what exactly is being told to these customers? Yes, are / will be reaching out to notify and educate affected customers about the 5GB T&C... note these customers number
O.M.G. Which is it? they are, or they will be? What "education" will you provide? and why does it look like you had more to say at the end.... can't you guys even finish a sentence?

We posted play-by-play commentary during the moderated chat in this EVDOforums thread, and noted these key points:
Tony Jackson : ... Existing business contracts that are signed prior to 7/13/08 will remain under existing terms and conditions for each contract.
We interpret that as meaning ONLY corporate liable contracts would be "grandfathered" and have unlimited service as it existed before any change to terms of service. That sounded good to us, until this showed up three posts later
redhatnick asked: Just to clarify as well, there is no such thing as being grandfathered in where the unlimited would still apply after the June notification?

Tony Jackson : That is correct... no grandfathering
I don't know about you, but the two statements made sure look to contradict each other, don't they? We really shouldn't be surprised anymore. In fact, it becomes less and less that we are surprised, and more and more that we shake our heads in disgust. This moderated chat by a Director and his crack team of experts who are taking their time to ensure answers are accurate... have done nothing but prove that Sprint is truly clueless about all issues surrounding the changes to the terms of service.

It doesn't end there. It gets worse. Now they tell us something we haven't heard before:
Tony Jackson : The new 5GB cap became effective mid July this year. Customers exceeding this threshold for 2 of 3 consecutive months will be contacted to inform / educate. New overage pricing structures -- e.g., $ / MB -- will be coming soon.
We interpret that to mean that there WILL be overage charges of some kind, further reinforced by this separate reply posted later in the chat:
Tony Jackson : ... As I said earlier, we are considering some new connection plans that will include overages and hopefully enhance your overall customer experience
Yay. Overage charges. Brilliant. Genius. This will definitely increase subscribership and prevent more loss of existing subscribers.

That moderated chat happened on July 31, and it ended with this:
Tony Jackson : Thank you all for participating in this Buzz Chat today! I realize that we may not have been able to get to all of your questions in the hour that we’ve had, but as Tristan mentioned, we’ll try to answer as many of those that have been submitted and re-post them in a few days
We had hoped that they would have the sense enough to post carefully crafted answers that answers all the burning questions. Nearly two weeks later, nothing new has been posted by any official... which makes sense because we believe nobody at Sprint has any clue what the specific details are.

Its hard to provide a conclusion to this blogpost. We could go on and on about this subject, but really won't get anywhere. Only thing worth adding is the struggle we had to come up with a good title. Our other choice?

Sprint EVDO: FUBAR

Sums it up nicely, doesn't it?

Feel free to join in the discussion at EVDOforums.com