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.


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.