I’ve been thinking a lot about EV-DO recently. Not because I’m using it. Quite the opposite. I’m not using it. That’s the way I’ve been thinking about it — just like you dream about a thick steak when you’re hungry or a cute boy when you’re a love-sick teenage girl.
EV-DO has been on my mind because I’ve been traveling – moving among three northeastern towns ranging from happening Portland ME, to Binghamton, NY — heartland of upstate New York’s economic disaster — to Honesdale, PA — a tiny town just out-of-reach of the Pocono vacation crowd. In between I’ve been in several airports.
One thing all these places have in common is difficulty finding free WiFi — or any WiFi for that matter.
Where there’s WiFi, it’s usually not free and, if you’re on the move, involves signing up with multiple providers. In San Francisco I could pay $8.00 to AT&T for a day pass. Then, later in the afternoon, I could pay T-Mobile another $8.00 for another day pass to get online in Philadelphia. If you’re a road warrior, those $8.00 charges add up in a hurry.
When I got to Portland, I was able to use the U. of Southern Maine’s network, but only because my friend is on the faculty.
Surprisingly, Honesdale, PA has two cafés offering free WiFi — but one of them doesn’t allow users to send outgoing mail and both of them close at 7:00 p.m.
And, Binghamton, well all I need to tell you about Binghamton is that the only place you can ship a package there is the Post Office. Forget advanced technology.
Now Philadelphia does have some free WiFi hotspots — I’m writing this in one — but the signal is weak and limited to a few (unmarked) locations. Performance feels like a dial-up connection.
Between all these locations and acces points, I could hardly manage to get my email. In the end I resorted to tried and true dial-up. Imagine trying to make a VoIP call.
But while I was doing all this shucking and jiving to stay Internet-connected, my Sprint mobile phone worked everywhere — even in the remote corners of rural PA.
Which brings me back to EV-DO. A while ago I wrote a piece on EV-DO after a conversation with Erik Lagerway, SIPthat blogger and CTO of Shift Networks, about VoIP over cellular data networks. A couple of people I spoke with for the story poo-poo’ed EV-DO as too expensive, too limited. Ubiquitous WiFi was going to make it a non-issue.
My report from the field is it’s far from a non-issue. And that if staying connected is important, right now EV-DO looks like a better bet.