EVO 4g : So what is that 4g like? in the ATL

Sprint\’s marketing strategy behind the EVO was to give it data access to 4g, which it has access to through it\’s >50% stake in Clear wireless, that sells WiMax as a general internet access point for people tired of DSL, tired of cable, who want some freedom or some other type of service.

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Sprint and Clear\’s WiMax is the only current implementation of a network potentially capable of 4g specs (100mbps target) as AT&T, Verizon, and the world are trying to figure out how to do 4g better with¬† LongTermEvolution.

WiMax has a few differences:

  • Runs at 2.5ghz instead of 700mhz (basically meaning less penetration, but higher quality)
  • It\’s Microwave (so Sprint Nextel already owned a bunch of towers and frequency ranges) :: remember push to talk?
  • Longer Range
  • Mobile switching is difficult (so when you\’re driving at <40mph and moving from one tower to another, you\’re going to be disconnected.

So far, I\’m pretty disappointed with my 4g coverage.

  • First of all, I don\’t get any 4g at my house in the suberbs (Roswell) even though I know that plenty of people in this area and north of me have Clear.
  • In the knoll at PiedmontPpark (Piedmont and 12th St) , I barely got a 4g signal.
  • In any building where I can\’t see closely out of the window. I don\’t get 4g coverage.
  • It can be very spotty. In the office, on the 34th floor, I get 2 bars with the phone to the left of me, I get 1 bar with the phone to the right of me. I get zero bars in front of me closer to my computer.
  • Shopping for houses at 5th and Argonne, I almost got it, but not really (tree cover?)

But the throughput is pretty amazing. We\’re talking 3.5 ->4mbps speed to speedtest.net. and 1.5mbps whenever you have 1 bar coming in and out. On the phone, this means that in downtown Roswell, I could watch HQ youtube clips waiting in line at the barber with less load time that my comcast connection.¬† It means that I can watch videos on Marta, and load web pages as quickly as they would load on my wifi.

Some spots are great:

  • Highway 92 (Roswell, Norcross)
  • Georgia 400 (Exit 8 -> Midtown)
  • Buckhead near Lenox (not in Lenox)
  • Up high in buckhead
  • Midtown on 5th Street / Peachtree
  • Midtown on 15th street / West Peachtree

A final thought here for the physics people; so 2.5ghz takes more cpu to process, but signal travels farther (through air) – also, higher bandwidth means fewer packets (when you\’re intense) so which will be more battery efficient? 3g or 4g? Because bettery on a smartphone seems important And when I leave 4g on in standyby, it doesn\’t seem to kill the battery that much.

But also, yeah, If I lived in San Francisco where there isn\’t any 4g coverage and there might not be for a while, I\’m not sure that I\’d care for an EVO, because that 4g can be nice, and is obviously a key feature of the phone.

Finally, I\’d love if somebody wanted to hack their EVO apart and try to figure out how easy it might be to add a 2.4ghz hdtv or portable phone type antenna to boost the signal.