Verizon races toward wireless broadband
Verizon, the nation’s largest wireless carrier with 37.5 million subscribers, is leading the charge to deploy a national wireless broadband data network — and it’s no slouch when it comes to wire-line coverage, either. The largest of the “Baby Bells,” Verizon has an estimated nine million miles of fiber crisscrossing the country, which it is now bundling into a single, national IP network under the name Enterprise Advance.
Until now, the missing link has always been wireless. But with the rollout of a new technology called EvDO (evolution, data optimized), Verizon wireless users will enjoy burst data rates of 2.4Mbps and average data rates of 300Kbps to 600Kbps.
Many industry analysts expect a broadband wireless data network to change everything — from the form factors of devices to the business models of the carriers and, perhaps most importantly, the productivity of the enterprise.
Gerry Purdy, principal at MobileTrax, a professional services organization devoted to mobility, says EvDO will give vertical industries the opportunity to offer better service and increase sales. “EvDO is the equivalent of having a T1 line,” he explains. “Repairmen will be able to download a video, if necessary, while on a job site.”
Purdy also believes the idea of a wireless broadband data network is so powerful that, in two years’ time, notebook manufacturers will begin to incorporate EvDO connectivity into their laptops, just as they now integrate Wi-Fi. No one knows, however, whether EvDO will be able to withstand popularity, since the throughput of shared networks can drop precipitously under a heavy load.
Verizon promises to have its national EvDO network deployed in a third of the company’s markets by the end of 2004, with rollouts across the country continuing through the end of 2005. However, David Hayden, principal at mobility consultancy MobileWeek, sees the cost of a subscription as a gating factor to widespread business deployment of EvDO. Currently, Verizon is charging $80 per month for all-you-can-eat service.
“It’s a pretty big number,” Hayden says. “An enterprise will have to figure out the ROI of enabling a sales force to subscribe at present rates before they make the move.”