EV-DO cellular data services catch on

As availability expands, U.S. businesses are eyeing EV-DO networks to deliver broadband speeds to mobile devices

Falling prices

Not only can users expect a better wireless data experience from EV-DO than from older technologies, but EV-DO is cheaper to boot. Prices for EV-DO services are down 25 percent compared to early last year, Bhattacharyya says.

Customers signing up for service in January 2006 would have paid about US$80 (AUD$101) per month for unlimited wireless data access with a two-year contract, Bhattacharyya says. Today, customers can expect to pay US$60 or less per month with a two-year contract.

In addition, users can expect to see more creative offerings from the carriers, Bhattacharyya says. Verizon Wireless recently started offering session-based pricing for customers accessing its network via a laptop with an embedded EV-DO modem, for example.

Of course EV-DO isn't the only game in town.

It's the 3G technology of choice for such legacy Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) wireless service providers as Sprint and Verizon. But U.S. wireless service providers, such as Cingular Wireless , with legacy Global System for Mobile Communications/Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (GSM/UMTS) networks are turning to High Speed Packet Access (HSPA)-based 3G services.

Cingular is upgrading its network with High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA)/UMTS gear. "Cingular's rollout isn't quite as extensive," as its competitors but it providers a similar experience, Bhattacharyya says. Cingular says it has upgraded its network with 3G technology in 160 markets.

"HSDPA/UMTS also provides business users with a great experience," Bhattacharyya says. It supports speeds similar to those of EV-DO, Cingular says, with download speeds between 400K and 700Kbps on average and bursts as fast as 1Mbps.

Likewise, T-Mobile -- another legacy GSM network provider -- plans to deploy HSPA gear to upgrade its network. T-Mobile needed to beef up its spectrum holdings, which it did in the FCC's Advanced Wireless Services auction last year, to start its 3G rollout. While the upgrades have begun, the company is expected to make big strides in 2007.

Meanwhile, Sprint and Verizon are moving beyond EV-DO Revision 0 to EV-DO Revision A. This next-generation technology supports upload speeds of 300K to 400Kbps and download speeds of 450K to 800Kbps.

"[EV-DO] Revision A will provide faster uplink speeds and only improve end-user experiences. It's very compelling," Bhattacharyya says. While the average user will not need the faster speeds for e-mail and PC cellular data connectivity, Revision A will provide a boost for such applications as high-speed video telephony, music on demand, video messaging and large file uploads.

Sprint says it has EV-DO Revision A in 21 markets, potentially reaching 67 million customers. Verizon says it is upgrading markets for Revision A, but the wireless carrier hasn't shared details about the deployment.

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