This article contains a plethora of information on EVDO and mobile broadband (how fast it is, how it works, what types of people use it, and more) - if you'd like to read just the basics and find out what you need to use mobile broadband, we recommend reading the concise "Mobile Broadband Basics" guide, which covers all the essentials: what you need in order to use mobile broadband, what the service options are, etc.
Getting online and being able to connect with friends, family, news, and the office is more important now than ever, but what happens if you're one of the millions of Americans without access to traditional broadband like cable or DSL, stuck in a hotel without WiFi, or cruising at 65mph down the highway in your Winnebago?
The answer is mobile broadband! Mobile broadband provides completely wireless internet access. You take the internet with you and surf the web in your car, on the train, in the airport, at a convention, on the road in your RV... you can even share the connection with multiple computers using a mobile broadband router, just like you could with your broadband connection at home!
"Mobile Broadband" is a generic term that describes this type of internet connectivity, but there are a few related terms that will be helpful to understand. EVDO, or Evolution Data Only/Evolution Data Optimized, is a 3G mobile broadband technology used by Verizon, Sprint and other providers that provides typical download speeds of 600-1400kbps (with bursts up to 3100kbps). The technology is an evolution of CDMA2000 — known separately as 1xRTT for voice and 1xEVDO for data transfer. This article focuses mainly on EVDO mobile broadband.
But let’s back up for a second — what is 3G? This refers to third-generation wireless technology first introduced in 1999 that provides a minimum data transfer speed of 0.2 Mbps. There are several 3G telecommunication standards in addition to EVDO. HSPA is another 3G technology that is used by AT&T and T-Mobile. Carriers in regions such as Europe and Japan that primarily have GSM infrastructure often use UMTS for 3G voice and data.
4G is the next (fourth) generation of mobile broadband technology. In the comparison of 3G vs. 4G, the latter offers much faster data speeds of up to 1 Gbps. Verizon introduced 4G network technology called LTE (Long-Term Evolution) in late 2010 which has since evolved into LTE advanced. 4G is the current cellular broadband standard and is MUCH faster than 3G technologies like EVDO.
What is EVDO? Just the Basics:
How does it work?
EVDO works similarly to the way your cell phone operates in that it relies on signal from a wireless tower rather than a physical connection like a phone line or cable. An EVDO modem (often referred to as an "aircard") receives the signal and allows you to connect to the internet — it’s as simple as that! EVDO modems come in several formats: USB dongle, ExpressCard, PCMCIA card or all-in-one hotspot (like a MiFi/jetpack), and you can use them either directly in your computer or in a 3G compatible router.
Of course, like your cell phone, the modem alone doesn't provide internet access — you must subscribe to the service from an EVDO provider. Sprint and Verizon both offer EVDO service with a various monthly allowances, and both charge overage fees for usage exceeding the allowance. For more information on what you can do with different amounts of data, see our data usage calculator.
Who uses EVDO, 3G, and/or 4G?
There are countless reasons to use EVDO or other mobile broadband technologies and we have helped customers get set up for a huge variety of applications! Below are just a few common ways people use EVDO:
How fast is EVDO?
How does EVDO compare to other technologies?
The best aspect of EVDO (to most users) is the mobility it offers, but EVDO is also FAST for 3G technology! With a good signal, EVDO Rev A averages about 600-1400Kbps download with upload speeds averaging between 500-800Kbps. Here is how it stacks up to other common internet technologies:
1xRTT (AKA NationalAccess)
1xRTT is a 2G (second generation) technology that has been available a lot longer than EVDO and is available just about anywhere cell phone coverage is for Verizon or Sprint. 1xRTT has a maximum of 144K upload and download, but the typical speeds are 50K - 80K. When EVDO is not available, your EVDO modem or phone will automatically connect to 1XRTT if available. While considerably slower than EVDO, 1xRTT is a huge boon to travelers - if you find yourself in a remote location with no EVDO you'll still be able to remain connected!
Is there EVDO service at my home/office/destination?
Both Verizon and Sprint offer EVDO in many areas of the USA, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico (note: using EVDO in Canada and Mexico requires specific devices and plans). To check coverage at your location, use the coverage maps and compare Sprint's and Verizon's coverage.
If EVDO is NOT available in a particular location, 1xRTT (aka "National Access"), may be available. In areas where EVDO is not available, your EVDO-enabled device (including aircards, USB modems, ExpressCards, phones, or embedded devices) will attempt to connect to the 1xRTT network. Generally, if your carrier has cell phone coverage in a particular area, there should be 1xRTT coverage even if EVDO has not yet arrived there.