Previous post:

Next post:

Verizon’s EV-DO BroadbandAccess: Speed measurements and tethering instructions

January 1, 2005

in All Articles,Cellphone reviews,Wi-Fi

Tether your PC and enjoy the outdoors.

(Other cellular providers have high-speed EV-DO networks. This article deals only with “BroadbandAccess” EV-DO from Verizon Wireless, as I only had access to Verizon devices and services at the time of this testing. Because of this, the article below is Verizon-centric.)

What is EV-DO?

Also spelled “EVDO“, “EvDO“, “3xEV-DO“, or “Evolution-Data Optimized third generation“, we’re talking about a special high-speed network by Verizon Wireless, allowing extremely fast data transmissions to cellphones, smartphones and PC cards (used for PC tethering). This gives users functionality previously limited by transmission speeds. From streaming video to downloading files, EV-DO networks are a significant and necessary step in transforming and improving our cellular devices. Verizon calls their EV-DO network “BroadbandAccess”.

How can I get EV-DO for my cellphone?

So you want EV-DO on your cellphone or smartphone? You need three things:

1) An EV-DO compatible device: When browsing through Verizon’s list of phones, look for phones supporting “BroadbandAccess”. All smartphones and PC cards support EV-DO.

An EV-DO capable phone will usually allow you services like fast music downloads from Verizon’s V Cast, video streaming, and tethering (connecting the phone to a PC, and having the PC connect to the Internet via your phone).

smartphone allows the same as above, with the addition of email, calendars, office VPNs, web browsing, office synchronization, and more advanced business-oriented and power-user features.

PC card like the Kyocera KPC650 looks like the picture you see below left.

Plug it into a PC card slot on your laptop, as in the picture on the right. The laptop will then use the card to connect to the Internet via Verizon’s network from wherever you are. This means no wireless subscription costs like what you find at Starbuck’s and some hotels and airports. Even go camping or to the beach. If you can get a digital cellular signal, you can browse the web, use office VPNs, and most everything else you’d do from a wired network. If you can get a BroadbandAccess signal, you can browse the web at fast EV-DO speeds.

2) The right location: View Verizon’s digital coverage map, and make sure you’re within the “BroadbandAccess and V Cast” supported areas.

3) A subscription to a Verizon data plan: Verizon’s BroadbandAccess network will automatically be used if you are within range, otherwise the device will use the lower-speed NationalAccess network. The network is available to new customers for $80 monthly or (for a limited time) $60 monthly for existing customers.

How can I tell if my phone or smartphone is getting an EV-DO signal?

Motorola Q showing an EV-DO signalA phone detecting an EV-DO signal will display “EV” or “EV-DO” somewhere near the signal strength icon, as demonstrated by our Motorola Q, on the left.

How can I tell if my PC card is getting an EV-DO signal?

Verizon’s VZAccess Manager software is used to manage your PC card’s connection to Verizon’s network. When VZAccess Manager runs, look at the bottom of the screen to see what type of connection you currently have. You’ll see this:

…or this:

“NationalAccess” indicates you’re on a (lower-speed) digital network. “BroadbandAccess” indicates your connection is running EV-DO.

What kind of speeds can I expect from Verizon’s EV-DO Broadband Access? How fast is EV-DO?

With EV-DO, Verizon claims to give 400 kbps to 700 kbps download speed, with possible bursts up to 2 Mbps. (For comparison, the non-EV-DO digital signal speed is 60 kbps to 80 kbps, with possible bursts up to 144 kbps.)

I did a test of the Verizon EV-DO upload and download speeds. My test program was the freeSpeakeasy speed test. Testing was performed using the Chicago location. All tests were within minutes of each other, and were run when my Verizon signal strength showed three out of four bars. Tests were made with the Kyocera KPC650 VZAccess PC card.

Averaging three speed tests gave me these final results:

Download Speed: 612 kbps (76.5 KB/sec transfer rate)
Upload Speed: 120 kbps (15 KB/sec transfer rate)

While I obviously wasn’t bursting, I was certainly within the mid-high range of Verizon’s claimed download speeds. For a nice visual, the Statistics function built in to the VZAccess Manager shows a report of real-time transmission rates:


Based on this testing, I can comfortably say Verizon’s EV-DO BroadbandAccess speed performs well in my area.

What are the benefits of EV-DO?

The addition of EV-DO (or as Verizon likes to call it, “BroadbandAccess”) means many things, and all those involve taking advantage of higher data transmission speeds.

For example, watch streaming video. Our examples below show screen shots of free media available on Verizon’s “Pix and Flix”, “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” on the left, and the classicInternet phenomenon “This Land” on the right.

Download V Cast music at high speeds. Songs are $1.99 and will appear on your phone in less than a minute.

Another important usage of an EV-DO network is tethering. See below.

Tethering a cellphone to a PC using VZAccess Manager

When you tether a PC(generally a laptop), youconnect it to a cellphonevia USB or Bluetooth, anduse the cellphone signal to connect to the Internet. Based on our speed measurements above, EV-DO allows for PC Internet access speeds approaching those of a home broadband connection. No need to pay for an Internet connection (like what’s required at some coffeehouses and hotels and airports I know). If you can get a digital signal on your cellphone, you can connect your PC to the Internet. If that signal is BroadbandAccess, you’ll be connecting at EV-DO speeds.

When setting up Verizon tethering, do the following:

1) Verify your device supports EV-DO. Check Verizon’s list of phones and look for phones supporting “BroadbandAccess”. All smartphones and PC cards support EV-DO.

2) Install VZAccess Manager on your PC. This is the software that manages your tethered connection between phone and PC. It may come with your phone, or with Verizon’s “Mobile Office Kit”. Or you can download VZAccess Manager here. Use the information on the VZAccess Manager website to verify the version of VZAccess Manager you have supports your device. (The “Check for updates” button built-in to VZAccess Manager did not work for me. I needed version 5.9 of VZAccess Manager to tether a Motorola Q, and I had version 5.7.7 installed. The update check told me I was at the latest version, and I obviously wasn’t. So be sure to do a manual check yourself.)

3) Get a subscription to a Verizon BroadbandAccess Connect data plan.

4) Get tethering cables. The hardware will be different depending on your phone, but packages like Verizon’s “Mobile Office Kit” give you a USB-to-cellphone cable, a driver disk, and installation and instruction CD. Cable-free tethers are possible, too: While “tethering” insinuates a physical connection, Bluetooth tethering is supported on Bluetooth-enabled cellphones and PCs.

5) Verify your phone appears as a modem. You should be able to connect your phone to a PC, and have it appear as a modem on your PC. The picture below shows the new modem that pops up in the Windows device manager when you attach a Samsung SCH-a990 via USB:

To make this happen, you’ll need to install the appropriate drivers for your cellphone. These should come with your phone documentation.

Troubleshooting tethering:

a) Some phones you can plug in and they’ll set themselves up immediately. Some phones (even the “smart” ones) need to be told you’re going to use them for tethering. In the case of the Motorola Q, for example, you need to Activate the “Modem Link” tool (pictured on the left). This tells the smartphone to get ready for a tethered connection.

Check your own phone’s documentation to see if there are any requirements to starting a tether on the phone itself.

b) You may need to turn off other things on your PC that may interfere with tethering. My Fujitsu Lifebook allocates fourteen different COM ports for Bluetooth operations. I have no idea why, but did find that this COM port allocation interfered with tethering: The phone would be recognized, the drivers installed, the modem would appear correctly, but the tether would not function until I turned off my conflicting Bluetooth COM ports. If you’re having problems with tethering, make sure your phone is correctly installed as a modem in Windows, and that there are no other devices using that same COM port. You might also try turning off other unneeded devices, like wireless. (If you have a hardware switch, I recommend using that instead of disabling the device from within Windows.)

6) Run VZAccess Manager. If it’s your first time running, you’ll be prompted to set up a connection. You can also restart the hardware setup process by selecting “Run Wizard” from the Options menu. This will prompt you for your phone’s connection type, and will install the cellphone modem it finds installed.

If VZAccess Manager can’t find your cellphone or PC card, try the troubleshooting I mention in step 5 above. Otherwise, your device will be installed, and you’ll see the Verizon digital network (assuming you’re in range). Click “Connect”, and you’ll be on the Internet.

Access was denied because the username and/or password was invalid on the domain.” You’ll get this message if you try to tether a device and that device isn’t connected to a high-speed network. To troubleshoot, disconnect your tether and try to just use the phone to access the Internet. If you can browse web pages, something may be wrong on the PC (see the troubleshooting in step 5 above). But if you can’t browse on the phone itself, then tethering isn’t going to work. Once you’re in an better coverage area where your phone can browse the Internet, reconnect and try again.

Previous post:

Next post: