Sprint modem straddles 3G, WiMAX
The slow and the Clear
Sprint has unveiled a wireless modem capable of jumping between its old-school CDMA cell network and the fledgling 4G WiMAX network it recently launched in Baltimore, Maryland.
"Sprint intends to be the leader in 4G and bring the wireless Internet to life," reads a canned statement from CEO/TV pitchman Dan Hesse. "This first-of-its-kind device allows our customers to take the Internet with them essentially wherever they go by gaining enhanced speed and capability in 4G markets and the nationwide coverage of our 3G network across the rest of the country."
The struggling US wireless carrier says the USB Modem U300 will hit Baltimore stores this Sunday, December 21. Manufactured by Franklin Wireless, the device will be priced at $150 - though a $50 mail-in rebate is available. Buyers must agree to sell their wireless soul to Sprint for two years.
For $79.99 a month, those who enter this Faustian bargain are afforded access to both the 4G and the 3G networks. In theory, the device looks for each, then attaches to the fastest available option.
Beginning Sunday, the USB device will be available from Baltimore-area Sprint stores and certain other local retailers. Baltimore Best Buys will begin offering the modem in January.
In the past, Sprint insisted on calling its WiMAX network "Xohm." But it has agreed to merge the network with a similar operation from the Washington State-based startup Clearwire, forming a new company also called Clearwire, and the combined network will be known as "Clear."
The new Clearwire plans to extend 4G service to Portland, Oregon in January. ®
I think it is great. All the other carriers will be able to see what Sprint did wrong and wireless data overall will benefit.
Simple really. It is cheap. I've been a Sprint customer for the better part of 10 years. The service was never great. Most people agree that the entire company went to crap when they bought Nextel. I'm not sure I saw a stark delineation there, it seemed to start out mediocre and has slid inexorably towards abysmal.
It is also MUCH cheaper than anyone else. Probably at least 30% So I put up with the worst customer service in the history of capitalism, and phones that may or may not get a signal inside our house. Which BTW is not the phone's fault. We've had many phones, currently a Treo 680 and HTC Vogue: not exactly low end stuff.
Is this "value"? Probably not. But in truth I do believe Sprint is only slightly worse than all the other HORRIBLE phone companies. If I were willing to pay half again as much I could have a fractionally better customer experience from a fractionally less incompetent group of mindless drones. And there would be a infinitesimally better chance my phone would work in the house - although I have heard several dreadful stories of Verizon in our area too. And I can't envision ever willingly giving ATT money. So, 'eh, they're all crap. At least I'm paying the fewest dollars possible for the privilege of their abuse.
What's the maximum speed of "3.5g" ? I get that on my N95 8GB and also occasionally connect my laptop using it and get really decent speeds for web browsing, and even downloading isn't too bad.
Does WiMax/4G or whatever you want to call it add much in terms of speed?
I find that the 3.5G connection loads web pages easily when connected to my laptop and using a web browser such as Firefox or IE, but feels nowhere near as fast when browsing on my actual mobile.