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In Ireland, you can use the 8707, a model that operates on Vodafone’s UMTS 3G network: The new model will also work as a cell data modem for laptops.
Dell adds new EVDO in new form factor for its own, other Windows XP laptops: ExpressCard is a substantially faster replacement for PC Card/CardBus technology. Dell is offering a private-branded version of the Novatel Wireless XV620 which provides EVDO service for Verizon’s network. The card runs $179 and includes 30 days of Verizon service, after which normal plan rates apply.
The card should work in laptops from other makers, but Dell isn’t supporting that. Likewise, while Apple’s new MacBook Pro features an ExpressCard slot, drivers aren’t expected from Novatel until later this year; they have released Mac drivers in the past. A Mac with Boot Camp installed, the beta release of a bootable Windows partition for Intel-based Macs, should be able to run an EVDO ExpressCard just fine. One site tested this earlier this year with no problems.
No timetable in place: Lucent said that Verizon Wireless will purchase Rev. A equipment from them to upgrade their cell data network. Rev. A offers a nominal speed of 3.1 Mbps downstream and 1.8 Mbps upstream; in practice that means a peak rate above 2 Mbps for downstream traffic and expected rates of 400 to 600 Kbps upstream.
My officemate Jeff Carlson offers this review of the Palm Treo 700p in Macworld magazine: He likes the speed, the EVDO service, the better camera, and the form factor. But the cost and inability to connect via a USB cable—Bluetooth is required—to use the phone as a modem are problems. Jeff and I tested the Palm 700p with him on EVDO and me on a DSL line for videoconferencing using AOL Instant Messaging on his end and Apple iChat AV on mine. It wasn’t fantastic, but what a portent of things to come.
Technology Review reports that NTT DoCoMo has a prototype wireless network operating at 2.5 gigabits per second (Gbps): It’s mobile, working at 20 kph, and could move a DVD across in about 10 seconds. They use MIMO with six antennas, but they mention neither spectrum band nor channel width. And it’s impossible to stick this receiver in a handheld device right now, either.
There’s an obscure note about tweaking QAM, part of the modulation used to carry multiple symbols over a single channel or subchannel, but increasing the number of symbols per modulation (the effective raw bit rate) typically requires a greater signal to noise ratio. That is, more power or more bandwidth than a channel that can only carry a smaller amount of symbols.
The article identifies this as part of the 4G direction, in which everything is Internet Protocol and speeds are orders of magnitude higher. But it cautions that this is several years away.
IDG News Service reports on nervousness at cell operators on their all-you-can eat data plans: The article notes a fact that I am aware of and have seen little reporting on elsewhere—that most cell towers wee designed for 2G or 2.5G networks and have T-1 (1.544 Mbps) or broadband wireless connections for backhaul. Because each 3G channel can use up to several Mbps, a tower handling multiple channels and users would be overwhelmed. This is where fixed WiMax (802.15-2004 flavor) may become extremely important to carriers as a relatively inexpensive way to add capacity.
Of all the carriers, Sprint sounds least concerned, and they say their terms only restrict the use of their service as a server. A Gartner analyst, Michael King, notes that Verizon and Cingular will find it hard going to back off from their current plans. He’s quoted in the article noting, Never in the history of wireless and mobile communications has a carrier succeeded in bringing prices back up.”
Qualcomm said at a briefing attended by Alan Reiter recently that they had bought the rights to UHF channel 55 for their MediaFLO service in the U.S.: The service will allow cell operators to offload push-media—streaming TV, audio, and targeted data—to spectrum other than that scarce and expensive stuff they use for voice calls. It also ties the operators directly to Qualcomm, which will control that spectrum, and which should make some carriers slightly nervous. No knock on Qualcomm, but any single vendor solution outside the control of an operator that combines hardware, software, patents, and spectrum should cause cold sweats.
Now, I linked to Alan’s May 31 report before, but he queried Qualcomm about how they’d get clearance to channel 55, given that the channel was still in use by some stations around the country. This is a quandary faced by all those companies that won currently occupied UHF spectrum for future data services.
Alan graciously is allowing me to write up what Qualcomm told him, as I prompted his questions. Qualcomm told him that while they won’t speak specifically about regions in which the channels are occupied—as they are negotiating to clear spectrum in each market—they have a deadline now set by Congress of Feb. 17, 2009, in which all broadcasts in those bands must halt.
Qualcomm did say that because it’s a matter of public record, they could point to agreements with specific stations, including WLNY (Riverhead, New York), WACX (Leesburg, Florida), and KWDK (Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.), among others.
They’re planning to launch access after 2006 regardless of whether they have the entire country cleared, and regardless of some action they’re looking for on interference from adjacent UHF channels that are still in operation in some markets (54 and 56).
If you wondered what a Dear John letter from Verizon for loving their EVDO data service too much looks like, here you go: A member of SOCALWUG, a community wireless group in Southern California, links to an EVDOForums.com post showing part of the kiss-off letter from Verizon. Verizon reiterates the restrictions on its unlimited BroadbandAccess service—Internet browsing, email, and intranet access—and then says that the user exceeded 10 GB over 30 days, or 40 times average user activity.
This isn’t unreasonable. They can set limits and have expectations that most customers will follow them. But it does raise the question: how much usage can Verizon stand?
Increase the number of users tenfold on their network, and does that strain the system? Increase the average user’s use 10fold and increase users fourfold—same question.
That’s probably why MediaFLO is appealing for offloading streaming media entirely from the cellular spectrum. When MediaFLO is available, I could see even more restrictions on the regular cell data part.