There was a time when we used to think of mobile networks as a way of getting voice, SMS and data services on our mobile phones. The evolution of data services in 3G and post 3G networks changed that perception and introduced us to a new terminology called Mobile Broadband. The data speeds we get nowadays through 4G LTE and 5G networks allow us to use mobile data as an alternative to fixed broadband also. EVDO is one of those technologies that played a key role in changing that perception.
EVDO or EVolution Data Optimized is a technology used in CDMA-based 3G networks to offer high-speed internet service through mobile devices. Mobile devices can include USB dongles, data cards and MiFi devices.
If you live in a country where mobile operators used CDMA2000 to deploy 3G networks, then you may already have come across EVDO. The post-3G evolution of mobile data speeds involved a range of new network technologies. The network technologies depended on which path was used by the mobile operator for 3G migration. HSPA (which is a combination of HSDPA and HSUPA ) and EVDO are among the key technologies that led that evolution.
So, how is it different from HSPA?
Now it may be a bit confusing when you hear EVDO, LTE and HSPA all at the same time. While all of these terminologies represent different technologies, they do have something in common. EVDO is a third-generation (3G) technology standard used in CDMA-based mobile networks (Code Division Multiple Access) for providing high-speed internet services. The equivalent of EVDO in the UMTS based 3G networks is HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access). HSPA is a combination of HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) and HSUPA (High-Speed Uplink Packet Access). LTE, on the other hand, is a 4G technology and therefore a more recent technology than EVDO and HSPA.
It may be interesting to point out that originally the abbreviation EVDO stood for EVolution Data Only. However, it was later changed to EVolution Data Optimised.
How does it work?
EVDO services are available from mobile network operators or other telecom or internet service providers. A customer usually requires a USB data card (i.e. USB dongle or a Mi-Fi device) to access the service. They can simply connect the data card to their computing device and follow the instructions available from the service provider. The user may be required to install software from the service provider so they can connect to the internet. The software may also have options to manage other associated services e.g. checking data consumption or managing subscription status.
EVDO evolved from CDMA2000, and it is a packet-only standard which can provide the internet data access. EVDO is a network choice that allows mobile operators to offer data-only services that can co-exist with their voice services. When deployed, it uses a dedicated channel of 1.25 MHz. The voice part can either be delivered as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or on a separate fall-back carrier dedicated to voice-only i.e. CDMA2000 1X carrier. To ensure voice service quality, the fall-back option is often adopted by most CDMA mobile operators.
What speeds can you get with EVDO?
EVDO can provide maximum download speeds of up to 14.7 Mbps and maximum upload speeds of up to 5.4 Mbps with its Revision B (Rev. B). The first version (Rev. 0) provided peak download speeds of up to 2.4 Mbps and peak upload speeds of up to 153 kbps. With Revision A (Rev. A) enhancements, the download data rates improved to 3.1 Mbps and the upload speeds moved up to 1.8 Mbps.
Rev. B offers further enhancements by providing a multi-carrier capability in which a mobile can communicate with multiple carriers at the same time. By doing this Rev. B effectively increases the data rate by two or more times. Release B, with two carriers, can increase the download speeds to 6.2 Mbps, which can go as high as 9.3 Mbps with three carriers.
If we look at the difference between EVDO and HSPA from a speed perspective, HSDPA can enable download speeds of up to 14.4 Mbps, and HSUPA can allow upload speeds of up to 5.76 Mbps. HSPA+, which is an enhancement to HSPA, can offer even higher data rates, with up to 42 Mbps for the downloads and 11.5 Mbps for the uploads.
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