EV-DO Sweeps America
The rumors have been thick for a week that Sprint would chase Verizon into the EV-DO rollout world. At Supercomm this week the rumor became a reality when Sprint announced a $1 billion investment to roll out the technology over the next few years, starting with selected markets later this year. Verizon has already launch their service, called BroadbandAccess, in San Diego and Washington DC and plans on delivering EV-DO services this year to about one-third of the US market.
A natural question for potential users of such a system is whether competing vendor's EV-DO offerings will interoperate. Denise Pappalardo, writing for Network World Fusion writes that "When asked if Sprint plans to team up with Verizon on a roaming agreement for EV-DO services, the carrier says it would provide benefits to users, but it has not reached such an agreement at this point."
Given the relatively slow speed of EV-DO (typically 300K to 500K) one has to wonder what the telecom giants are thinking. EV-DO may do a better job of penetrating office tower walls than mesh 802.11 networks, but as Wi-Fi continues to spread, increasingly with no access fees, consumers may prefer to wait until they arrive in range of a free hotspot rather than pay monthly access fees to a carrier.
Perhaps someone at Sprint could be troubled with the analysis of what $1 billion would buy in 802.11 gear to cover the same market areas. Since they are unlikely to make the money back with EV-DO, the would be better off providing the money to municipal governments as a tax-deductible donation and at least get a significant amount of marketing mileage for helping to close the digital divide. Anyone at Sprint listening?