News-Gazette photo editor Darrell Hoemann takes over today to report on a tech device he was able to put to the test recently:
When Verizon announced its new 4G network, I took notice immediately.
Photographers and reporters at The News-Gazette have been using Verizon’s 3G MiFi cards for some time and they’ve been useful in many deadline situations. However, while 3G speeds have been pretty good, photographers sending photos and video files have a need for speed.
While Verizon’s 4G network isn’t yet available in the C-U area, the Illinois-Missouri basketball game in St. Louis and the Texas Bowl in Houston were both in markets where the new network was online .
News-Gazette tech guru Mike Howie was able to obtain a loaner 4G USB modem (the Pantech ULM290) for us to try on the road and it arrived in the nick of time before Christmas. The only problem was Verizon had yet to release drivers for Macintosh computers (yeah, I’m one of those guys). Coming to the rescue were the folks at Engadget.com who developed a work-around and we were in business.
While my use of the card might have been enhanced by the newness of the 4G network, the speed claims seemed justified. While I don’t have techie numbers, I was able to upload 45 full size jpeg photos to an online gallery in less than 4 minutes. Similar speed increases were evident with video, with an 8 megabyte video file uploading in under two minutes. The only problem was there seemed to be some difficulty with the FTP connection successfully completing the upload, but that could as much be the hacked driver work-around as the connection itself.
Overall, the speeds seemed faster than my home landline DSL connection. The modem is also supposed to be backward compatible with Verizon’s 3G networks, but that didn’t work on my Mac, so I could only use it where the 4G network existed. I suspect that will change when Verizon gets an official driver available. The other caveat is as more 4G devices become available network traffic might slow things down. We can tell when we use our 3G MiFi’s at Assembly Hall or Memorial Stadium and crowds arrive with their 3G smartphones. But overall, the speed increase was amazing, even from a moving car on the interstate.
Spokeswoman Rebecca Eckhart says there’s no firm date for when 4G will be available in Champaign-Urbana, but adds that "Verizon plans to cover their entire 3G footprint by the end of 2013."
In the meantime if you are a road warrior with a PC and a need for speed, an upgrade would be worth consideration.
Here are the cities where Verizon has 4G in place:
Charlotte, North Carolina
Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Las Vegas, Nevada
Los Angeles, California
Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
New Orleans, Louisiana
New York, New York
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Rochester, New York
San Antonio, Texas
San Diego, California
San Francisco, California
San Jose, California
St. Louis, Missouri
West Lafayette, Indiana
West Palm Beach, Florida