What are the Different Types of EVDO Cellular Device?

A. Noel

Evolution Data Only/Evolution Data Optimized (EVDO) wireless cellular devices that are used to access broadband services from local access points. Types of EVDO devices include mobile telephones, external modems, and embedded radio modules. The migration of EVDO to higher speed third generation (3G) wireless broadband technology is increasing demand for EVDO cellular devices.

Telecommunications antennas transmit broadband to EVDO wireless cellular devices.
Telecommunications antennas transmit broadband to EVDO wireless cellular devices.

The use of an EVDO cellular device requires a service arrangement with a carrier. Japan, Canada, and the United States are the three major countries that are using Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) EVDO technology. Although EVDO runs on CDMA networks, not all CDMA devices are EVDO-compatible. The choice of device is typically limited to those offered by the carrier. It may be possible, however, to unlock EVDO cellular devices and use them on other EVDO-compatible carrier networks.

Touchscreen tablet computers may use embedded EVDO cellular services.
Touchscreen tablet computers may use embedded EVDO cellular services.

High demand for EVDO devices has been generated from the introduction of 3G wireless broadband technology. Typically, 3G EVDO offers a peak download speed of 3.1 megabits per second (Mbps) and peak upload speed of 1.8 Mbps. Mobile telephones, which include cell phones and smart phones, are the most common access devices for EVDO cellular services. To improve the user experience with higher speed 3G EVDO services, devices with larger screens have increased in popularity. Generally, 2.8-inch (about 7.11 cm) and larger screens are accommodating Web browsing, audio, video, and new applications such as mobile television (TV).

The second largest demand for EVDO cellular devices comes from the mobile computing market. Mobile telephones are commonly used as modems through a connection that brings EVDO wireless broadband to portable computers. This process is called tethering.

Mobile universal serial bus (USB) broadband sticks are the first real competitor to WiFi. These highly portable modems enable users to access broadband services — similar to a digital subscriber line (DSL) or cable — anywhere they can access an EVDO cellular network through a USB port. USB sticks are replacing the incumbent wireless cards. Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA) cards, which have been replaced by USB ports on computers, were the first to offer cellular wireless data on computers and personal digital assistants (PDAs).

Due to stature and portability, USB wireless sticks are quickly replacing broadband modems, including smaller, mobile EVDO routers. For home or office network users, routers are still in high demand to share EVDO cellular services, amplify the signal, and connect multiple devices, such as iPods and gaming devices. For the mobile work team, portable EVDO routers that serve as WiFi hotspots that wirelessly connect multiple users, such as the MiFi, are available.

Embedded broadband chips are providing an alternative to external devices in mobile computing. Factors to take into consideration are the ease of use of embedded technology versus multiple device usage, stronger signal strengths, and easier upgradability of external devices. Some carriers are directly selling portable computers with embedded wireless broadband technology. Touchscreen tablet computers that are popular with mobile Web users can be ideal devices for embedded EVDO cellular services.

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