Tripping the Light Fantastic (EVDO)

Hearthwood Dome just jumped into real broadband.

The above results are from on our new internet connection

Jean and I have been “roughing it” for the past two years on Hughesnet né Direcway satellite internet.

EVDO Cell BoosterAt a pidly 300-400kbps (kilobytes per second) download with 8kbps upload on average AND extreme latency (satellites are some 23,000 miles above our roof), you could pretty much kiss any chance of online gaming, VPN (virtual private network), or casual surfing of the iTunes Music Store good-bye.

I’ve been biding my time, surfing over at, and finally decided to make the jump to EVDO (Evolution Data Optimization) internet.

You may have heard the term applied to the latest smart phones or fast connection cards for laptops and notebooks. Some smart folks out there have figured out how to make these things work for home broadband as well.

How hard was it to set up? Not hard at all. I knew I wanted a Sprint Card, as Sprint (check for ALL this info) had service in my area (I checked the map) and I was already a Sprint subscriber. I got the recommended Merlin S720 Card, and accompanied it with a LinkSys router, into which I would plug the card. I also got a booster antenna just because I’m on the edge of the coverage area. Can’t hurt, right?

I placed the order, and a scant week later my equipment arrived. I unboxed my router and card, slapped the two together, and plugged in my router. I called the helpful folks at, just in case there were some complicated steps. In the meantime, my computer picked up the Wireless Access Point the LinkSys provided, and connected to the internet. Whoah. The phone tech confirmed there was really nothing more to do. It was that simple. Unbox. Plug the card in. Plug the power into the router. Surf.

Now (as you can see by our results) we’re getting roughly 1.2mbps (over 1200kbps) down and about 300kbps up (sometimes I’ve seen 500kbps) and AWESOME latency. That means Gaming (as if we had time), VPN (yay, work from home more!) and YES – iTunes. AAAND – Podcasting. (check our links on the sidebar for recent photocasts) And pushing up more photos to Flickr (I’ve debated recently whether to make all my photos public and open to commentary by the millions of flickr users).

I got my parents on the same service; they’ve actually been using 28.8kbps dial-up until now.

The best part about all this is the service. You’re probably thinking, what happens if it stops working? Who do I call? I had this exact question when my service took a dive. I called Sprint. I spoke with a rep, they offered to help trouble-shoot; I was at work so I couldn’t of course.

Later that evening, the tech called me back – he was actually on his way to the tower NOW and wanted to know if I wouldn’t help by attempting to connect…uhh sure. Actually speak with someone who knows what they’re talking about AND who wants to help me? YEAH, this rocks!

He helped me for over an hour, taking radios out of service and I’m doing speed tests all the while. Excellent customer service. The guy even gave me his cell phone # to contact him directly if I’m ever having difficulties, since he knows it would be a legitimate outage if I did call (me being somewhat tech-savvy and all). I mentioned I have a few neighbors stuck in the same boat as me who might be interested in the service. He said he’d let the folks in charge know to install some more T1’s to the towers in the area if I let him know just how many people…to be able to take the expanded demand for service and all. Good stuff.