Edinburg, VA — Shenandoah Telecommunications Company (Shentel), a Sprint PCS affiliate of Sprint Nextel, recently announced that 85% of its customers in the mid-Atlantic region now have access to EVDO (Evolution Data Optimized), a wireless technology designed for Internet access, data-sized applications. EVDO is commonly referred to as 3G or third generation.
Currently, Shentel offers EVDO service to approximately 2.5 million Sprint users in its coverage region from Harrisonburg, Va. to Harrisburg, Pa., delivering a major benefit to those living in rural areas that are unable to received DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) at their home. Until the emergence of EVDO, persons without DSL had only two Internet options: (1) slow, dial-up service or (2) costly satellite providers. Of course, EVDO also makes possible broadband Internet access for cellular phone applications on the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network.
EVDO technology works similarly to a cell phone in that it relies on signals from a wireless tower to achieve connectivity. With EVDO, subscribers do not need a physical connection, such as a phone or a cable line; rather, they rely on EVDO modems or “aircards” to receive the wireless signal that connects them to the Internet.
7Bends has been taking advantage of this new EVDO technology since June of this year through a Sprint PCS subscription which makes possible remote Internet access in nearly every part of the valley that receives standard cell phone service. It makes possible posting articles remotely from events and locations throughout the region, as well as checking on email, site traffic, and general research in putting together articles and proposals.
Sprint subscribers can access EVDO in one of three ways:
USB Modem: a device that plugs into a computer’s USB (Universal Serial Bus) port.
PCS DIA Cards: a credit card–sized application that slides into older laptop models.
Mi-Fi: a battery-operated, standalone device that sits next to laptops, netbooks, iPod Touch or Wii devices and translates incoming 3G radio waves into a Wi-Fi network. The device, which enables up to five users to connect to the Internet at the same time, also allows access to the hotspot’s GPS functionality, which can be used to connect to mapping and location-based services.
“Sprint PCS customers must subscribe to a data-type plan, such as the ‘Simply Everything’ plan, to utilize these EVDO devices,” says Brian Brooks, Director of Sales for Sprint. He estimates that “approximately 60% of Sprint customers in Shentel’s region are choosing data-type plans.”
Brooks continues, “Growing demand for broadband Internet access has made expanding EVDO coverage a major Shentel focus over the past year and a half. To date, 316 of our 453 towers are equipped with EVDO radios, and we are looking to add even more. Shentel conducts ongoing research to identify areas where customers are underperforming in terms of network capability on the landline side. I believe this practice distinguishes us from other carriers because we ask customers where they want and need service.”
Brooks has offered 7Bends the use of one of the new Mi-Fi units in order to check it out for ourselves, to which we acquiesced immediately, the testing of new hardware/ software being a house specialty that we particularly enjoy here at 7Bends.
Check back with us for a user report on the new Mi-Fi technology within the regional system.