On the road with EVDO

This past winter I had the opportunity to do a great deal of traveling by RV. For business and personal reasons, it was necessary to remain ‘connected’ throughout the winter. As a result, I researched possible solutions to provide that connectivity.

The choices for this type of service came down to either the EVDO (Evolution Digital Optimization) access card or satellite IP service. Upon reviewing the features and functionality of each of these technologies, it became obvious that the simplicity and portability of the EVDO access card, compared to equipping the RV with a satellite system, lent itself particularly well to this mobile lifestyle. Therefore, I decided to use the Telus Passport EVDO card in my laptop for email connectivity and internet access.

EVDO is a wireless radio broadband data standard adopted by many CDMA mobile providers such as Telus, Bell Canada, Verizon and Sprint primarily in North America. It provides a non-switched, shared access to the internet utilizing existing cellular broadcast towers.

Once the decision was made, one of the outstanding concerns was the availability of IP service and potential issues of authentication on US networks. These concerns proved to be unfounded.

The journey took us through central and south eastern United States, over a three month period. As I traveled, I had the opportunity to log in from central Georgia, as well as various locations in Florida and South Carolina.

In all cases, the connectivity was as ubiquitous as the availability of cell service. The service was stable and reliable throughout many hours of use.

Applications

My requirements at this point were restricted to email, MSN messaging and web access. I did not attempt either webcam or voice since this early version of EVDO does not yet provide Quality of Service protocol. Certainly, on a future trip, I fully intend to attempt webcam, VoIP and other business applications. As EVDO evolves as a technology, it appears at this time that cellular based IP service is a technology with a great deal of potential during maturation.

EVDO vs. WiFi Hotspot

One of the questions I was asked relative to using EVDO rather than relying on WiFi hotspots I may encounter while traveling, was one of security and convenience.

Security

There are no absolutes relative to secure access. However, I felt that EVDO, by allowing me access inside my own RV, gave me an additional layer of privacy and security when compared to working in the public domain that is normally associated with a WiFi Hotspot.

Convenience and Privacy

My travels took me through a series of RV resorts. Only two of fifteen resorts provided a public WiFi hotspot within the grounds. In all other locations, it would have been necessary to travel to the nearest community for this type of access.

As a notorious night owl, the convenience of being able to log in any time day or night without having to seek out a hotspot location was invaluable. Some hotspots were a distance from my RV and were often found in outdoor cafés; open to the elements and uncomfortable in poor weather conditions.

Thoughts for future journeys

I look forward to layering on other applications as EVDO evolves and will keep the Fox Flash readers updated with anecdotal commentary regarding experiences, successes and issues.

Thanks to Bill Edwards of the TELUS Business Solutions Consultant Liaison Program for providing me with the EVDO card so that I could keep connected over the winter.

Bill Elliott is a director at Fox Group. If you would like to discuss this article further, he can be contacted at Bill.Elliott@FOXGROUP.ca or 905.473.3369 x 1400.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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