Living in New York, which got the service in September 2004, I was happy to try it out. The Verizon Wireless PC 5220 card I received was durable, with a flip-up antenna that otherwise lies snug against the base of the card, so no parts will get snagged and mangled in my bag. The software and drivers were really easy to install. It took about five minutes from opening the package to connecting and opening a Web page. I was previously using dialup in my apartment in Brooklyn and understood how painfully slow waiting for e-mail to load could be. The first time I tried the card I was hooked.
Even though it wasn’t always as fast as the high-speed promises of EV-DO (Verizon claims typical speeds of 400 to 700 Kbps, with spikes of up to 2 Mbps, but those promises really only apply to Manhattan), the PC 5220 card is backward compatible with Verizon’s National Access service. And it was still faster than dialup. When the hotspot at the coffee shop up the street crashed, I was still able to get online.
In fact, I never had trouble connecting. I did have some trouble with the speed optimizer client, Venturi, in that it didn’t always do very much to help optimize speed, but I appreciate the way it’s designed to offer increased speeds based on the Web tasks you’re working on.
And Verizon Wireless is now expanding Broadband Access service to include 30 metropolitan markets in many states. Check out www.verizonwireless.com/broadbandaccess/. Service starts at $80 per months with the cards being nearly free once you sign up for one or two year agreements. Two other cards are now available: the KPC650 from Kyocera, which I desperately covet, and the Novatel v620. I have to admit, once having realized the dream of anywhere, anytime connectivity, it’s hard going back to relying on hotspots.