4G Blog by 4Ginfo.com

News, info, reviews, and opinions on WiMAX, LTE, Clearwire, XOHM, and Sprint 4G

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A few weeks ago we broke the news that a tri-mode WiMAX/EVDO/HSDPA USB device was on the way, the Franklin U300. There is a lot of excitement surrounding the debut of this device, especially as more and more people are having success with WiMAX.

So where is it?!

Well, it's not here yet, but rumors have surfaced about pricing. These aren't official announcements, but the information sounds reasonable and will most likely prove to be true.

The full retail cost of the device itself - AKA the cost you pay without signing up for a 2-year contract - is alleged to be in the $300 range, comparable to the price of EVDO devices and phones without a contract. However, when you purchase it with a contract I'm sure it will be far cheaper.

As for the price of the service, it is rumored to be set at $79.99/month and require a 2-year contract. The EVDO service will be limited to 5GB, and the WiMAX will be unlimited (for now - Sprint has already hinted at applying a similar limit to WiMAX in the future).

Stay tuned for more information!

Read more and get the full specs on 4Ginfo.com
Discuss the U300 and other WiMAX devices on the 4G Forums

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

XOHM currently offers three modems for use on their WiMAX network, and they're all different formats: there's the Zyxel Home Modem, SWC-e100 ExpressCard, and their latest offering, the ZTE Tu25 USB dongle. So which one are you supposed to choose? Which one is the "best"? Do they all work the same?

We at 4Ginfo.com have tested all three available XOHM modems, and after comparing the performance and benefits of them we've put together some information that should help you make your choice!

Our Favorite: Zyxel Home Modem: If you're going to use XOHM primarily at home, the Zyxel is far and away the best choice. It's incredibly easy to set up and is compatible with any computer (it is the ONLY one that works with Macs right now) AND can be used with any standard router! It works just like a regular cable or DSL modem: just plug it into the wall and then either connect it directly to your computer via an ethernet cable or use it with a router. Its built-in antennas are powerful, and it is the only modem with antenna ports that can be used with future antennas, like EVDO aircards (there aren't any available yet, but stay tuned).

It also out-performed the other two options. We saw consistent download speeds of 4-5Mbps (even higher than XOHM promises on their site) and we were seeing consistent uploads of well over 1Mbps. Unless you're going to be traveling a lot and don't want to worry about having to find an outlet everywhere you go, this is definitely the best modem to go for.

First Runner Up: ZTE Tu25 USB Modem: If you want to go truly mobile, we suggest the USB option. It worked well for us, and obviously works with any PC that has an USB port (not on Macs, though!). As for speeds, we were able to occasionally hit download speeds of nearly 10Mbs, but the average speeds were much lower than that. The upload speeds, on the other hand, were significantly less than what we saw with the Home Modem, in the range of about 800Kbps as opposed to 1.2+Mbps.

Unlike the Home Modem, there probably won't be an option to hook up an external antenna to this modem. It does have two connectors on the bottom of the modem beneath the label, but they are u.fl connectors and not designed for repeated connecting and disconnecting of an antenna like we do for EVDO aircards.

And in a Distant Third Place: The Samsung ExpressCard: Unless you have too many peripheral devices taking up your USB ports or you just love ExpressCards, we do NOT recommend the SWC-e100 ExpressCard. There have been activation problems, and those that have been able to activate it have experienced slow speeds and difficultly staying connected to the network. In our tests, we maxed out at 1.5Mbps or so down and our fastest upload speed was 791 - the average upload speed was more like 500. Better than dial-up, but those are speeds we expect from EVDO Rev-A, not WiMAX. With the USB modem also available for "on-the-go" users, there is no reason to opt for the ExpressCard.

If you've used a XOHM modem, let us know if you agree with our opinions! Share your experience with the 4G community at the 4G Forums

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Everyone appreciates a device that can serve more than one purpose (like the USB EVDO modems that can double as a flash drive!), and Franklin Wireless has released news that they're coming out with a potentially AWESOME device that is compatible with WiMAX, EVDO Rev-A, AND HSDPA! It's called the U300 and is made by C-Motech, and is set to become available by the end of the year.

I said that it was "potentially" awesome because at this point, we don't know much about it other than the technical specifications released by the company. There is speculation that it will be a pricey device - possibly in the $200-$300 range (but again, that is just speculation at this point), and how the usage will be charged is unknown, too. Sprint's XOHM service doesn't require a contract, but all EVDO providers do. Most likely, we will still be required to sign a contract if we want to use the U300 for EVDO, but hopefully WiMAX will remain contract free. As for monthly costs, I would imagine we'll be paying for both services at full price. Another question is whether it has an antenna port on it - while there aren't currently any antennas available for WiMAX devices, there will be in the future and a lack of antenna port could be a deal breaker for many users. As for use in a router, that's another question that probably won't be answered for a while.

If the u300 is as good as it sounds up front, it will likely become a huge hit.

Read more and get the full specs on 4Ginfo.com
Discuss the U300 and other WiMAX devices on the 4G Forums

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Apple prides themselves on always being on the cutting edge of technology - who had an MP3 player before we all got hooked on iPods? - and it looks like they're aiming to be one of the first manufacturers to jump on the WiMAX bandwagon.

It has been reported that devices like the iPod Touch and some notebooks may soon come equipped with WiMAX chips - in Korea, anyway. Apple and Korean provider KT Corp have signed a "memorandum of understanding," which, while not equivalent to an official partnership, does indicate that Apple is interested in the technology. It makes sense that they would choose Korea as their first market for WiMAX devices, since WiMAX has been available for a while now and covers a large number of subscribers.

Interestingly, one device the Korean market WONT be seeing WiMAX on is the iPhone. Korea hasn't even allowed the iPhone 3G to be sold in the country because Korea requires all smartphones to comply with the WIPI (Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability) standard, which requires that online-capable phones support Java as well as certain types of executable code. The requirement doesn't apply to the iPod Touch or MacBooks, so Apple would be allowed to integrate WiMAX on those devices.

While it is certainly exciting to see WiMAX expand to other devices, remember that there are a lot of downsides to integrated devices...

Discuss Apple's WiMAX plans on the 4G Forums

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Monday, October 13, 2008

It looks like we might be able to add Kansas-ites to the list of lucky Americans with access to WiMAX soon!

It won't be via Sprint's XOHM network, though. ­Instead, local company Nex-Tech, a subsidiary of Rural Telephone Service Company, has ordered WiMAX network kits from Redline Communications in order to create a for a multi-city WiMAX network. A lot of rural areas in Kansas are currently unavailable to access high speed services like DSL or cable, so this will be a big upgrade for them and will likely prove to be very popular.

Justin McClung, Internet Solutions Manager at Nex-Tech had this to say about the plans:

"Our customers have come to expect a high level of service from Nex-Tech. Deploying Redline's high capacity 3.65 GHz WiMAX base stations eliminated the issues we encountered using other wireless solutions, including mitigating interference, ensuring high levels of throughput and delivering the Quality of Services (QoS) support we needed for a successful business model. With Redline's 3.65 GHz WiMAX solutions, we can maintain user confidence, reliability and significantly increase upstream and downstream throughput."
Nex-Tech has estimated that the network will be ready to roll out in November in areas including Hays and Great Bend.

Discuss this development and other coverage areas on the 4G Forums

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Earlier this month, we at 4Ginfo.com posted an article on how to get your Sprint XOHM device up and running in areas with XOHM outside Baltimore. It has worked successfully for MANY people, allowing people in Dallas, Chicago, etc to sign up for service and access the SUPER fast network. We've heard a lot of success stories and had success ourselves!

Some people have had trouble, though. I mentioned the accounts of a few of them the other day, but over the weekend one of our own employees experienced a bump in the road in Chicago. After being able to access the network without any problems for a while, he began having a problem when using his ExpressCard. Each time he popped it in his computer, he was asked to re-register. Coincidentally, our employee received a phone call from XOHM, welcoming him to the network (has anyone else received such a call? While it's a nice gesture, it seems a little over the top for Sprint to expend such manpower on welcome calls...), and he decided to take the opportunity to try to find out why he was experiencing this problem.

Upon seeing that he was actually outside the Baltimore region, she informed him that the "workaround" is no longer valid - the Network Operations division had halted activations outside Baltimore. She went on to explain that people in Chicago and Dallas will just have to "be patient" until the network is launched in their areas. However, since he has had his device activated for weeks now, she told him that she wouldn't be canceling his service.

Interestingly, another one of our employees has had NO such problems. He is in Dallas and has been able to connect to the network consistently since signing up a couple weeks ago.

If you've had similar problems, or, better yet, a success story, make sure you join in the discussion at 4G Forums!

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

XOHM has recently updated their "products" page on their official site, featuring laptops that have embedded WiMAX chips. The selling point for these laptops is the alleged convenience - simply activate the internal device and access the network wherever you take your laptop (as long as you're in the coverage area, of course)!

Sounds good, right? We don't think so. Let's look at what you get - and don't get - with an embedded device.


  • Convenience. No need to take a device with you.
  • Save a little money - you don't need to buy a device. However, all of the XOHM devices currently available are so cheap that selecting a laptop based on the prospect of saving $60 seems silly.
  • No option for ever attaching an antenna to improve your signal! Many, MANY people use antennas to improve the performance of their EVDO devices, and with WiMAX still a ways off from being widely available, many WiMAX users are going to be utilizing them as well. With an embedded device, your only option to improve your signal is an expensive cellular repeater, for which you also need to purchase 2 antennas.
  • No sharing! The only computer on which you'll be able to use your service is the computer its embedded in (obviously). With a dedicated device, like a USB or ExpressCard modem, you can pop it into ANY computer that has the proper port.
  • No WiFi! You have no option of using a router to share the signal with multiple computers.
  • Connection manager? It is currently unknown whether these laptops will utilize the carrier's connection manager or if, like the EVDO laptops, you will be limited to using the laptop manufacturer's connection manager. This becomes a big problem when updates to the firmware and new features become available. With a dedicated device, carriers make those updates available immediately - but they do not make it a priority to get these updates to users not using their connection manager.
  • What if it stops working? Good luck replacing it! It's very difficult just to FIND a replacement chip and even more difficult to actually replace it in the laptop.
  • How about upgrading? When EVDO upgraded to Rev-A, customers with EVDO embedded laptops were out of luck and stuck only being able to access the Rev-0 network. If WiMAX upgrades their network in a similar manner, embedded chip users would be unable to upgrade.

What do you think? Would you buy one? Discuss on 4G Forums!

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An interesting topic has come up at the 4G Forums, regarding some problems that users have encountered trying to use their activated modems in covered areas outside of Baltimore (Chicago, Dallas, etc). The problems range from not being able to connect to XOHM - despite their successful activation via 4Ginfo's workaround - and XOHM double-charging on a Pick Two plan.

Here are some complaints straight from the mouths (keyboards) of XOHM users:

Not working here in Chicago. I did everything correctly and connected once to Xohm service but now it doesnt even give me the option to connect to wimax. I used a few different Baltimore address but still gettting nothing.

I have to start up the connection manager than re insert the data card for it to work. Now on the home page for xohm it says that its an unknown wimax device. Do i need to activate it again on xohm home page? I am getting frustrated.

You may need to call in to XOHM Support. They fouled up my pick 2 plan and charged me twice and still ONLY had my Xyzel Home modem activated on my plan. I have noticed I have had more issues with the express card itself. May take a little patience for that card has to remain connected to the XOHM network in order to pull down some activation updates. Seeing that signal is spotty at current, it may just not be receiving that neccessary update to remain active.

Its hit or miss with the express card. The connection manager will find Xohm service but everytime it tells me to activate service. I have a receipt that shows what I ordered but it always brings me to xohm home page to activate my card, than I put in the mac address. It does this over and over. Very frustrating but I do realize that the service isnt active yet here in Chicago just using the work around. I might give it 30 days than Im going to send back the card and cancel the service.
To be fair, these problems seem to be occurring mainly when people are attempting to use the service OUTSIDE of the official Baltimore area, so things may clear up when those places are officially launched/supported by Sprint/XOHM. The most troubling complaint is the one regarding double-charges and their failure to activate one of the devices on the Pick Two plan. It's true that their system is brand new and a few hiccups are to be expected along the way, but those are pretty fundamental issues that should not be occurring.

Have you had any problems with your service? Or do you have a success story? Share your info on the 4G Forum.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Sprint XOHM coverage has been confirmed in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, but how does it measure up to the great results we got from our Chicago XOHM tests last week?

The results, while not horrible, were not nearly as impressive as what we found in Chicago:

The good: The network is definitely there, and the range was wider than expected - for those familiar with the area, it extended far north of the downtown area, north of LBJ/635

The bad: The network is NOT currently stable. We were not able to stay connected for more than 10 minutes at a time.

We used the SWC-e100 ExpressCard to test the area.

Here is the initial speed test:

dallas xohm speedtest

When we moved closer to downtown, things looked a little better (click to view full size):

downtown dallas speedtest

Here is a ping test to Google (click to view full size):

dallas ping test

And finally, a traceroute, also to Google (click to view full size):

dallas traceroute

Just to contrast, here is a traceroute from the same location using EVDO Rev A (click to view full size):

dallas evdo traceroute

We were only able to test with the SWC-e100 ExpressCard - perhaps the Home Modem, with its powerful antennas and ability to connect to towers that are further away, will fare better.

Don't get us wrong - we were happy just to see WiMAX! Once it officially launches in early 2009, the network is bound to be much more reliable.

Discuss coverage throughout the country on 4G Forums

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Last week, a couple websites falsely reported that the two WiMAX devices available from XOHM did NOT have antenna connectors. We are happy to report that that is NOT true! Both the Zyxel Home Modem and the Samsung SWC-E100 ExpressCard have not one but two ports:

Home Modem:

At this point, there aren't any antennas you can use with your WiMAX device, but the good folks at Wilson - who make many of the antennas and all of the amps we sell at 3Gstore.com - are currently testing various indoor- and outdoor-use antennas. Stay tuned for more info as we get it!

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Friday, October 03, 2008

WiMAX World was chock full of prototypes and interesting gadgets. Unfortunately... the companies tend to neglect to offer things like tech specs or other such details, so all we can do is lust over them and imagine what cool things they'll offer!

Here's one such device from C-motech, the CMR-300 WiMAX router. It looks pretty much like any standard WiFi router, complete with a built-in antenna to presumably provide greater WiFi range. It appears to have a USB port to pop in your USB WiMAX modem (which.... currently aren't available) and share your signal with the whole household or office. Stay tuned for more details - we'll report them as soon as we can get our hands on them!

On a related note, our good friends at Cradlepoint will be working to make their product line compatible with XOHM/WiMAX devices in the future!

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Now that we've confirmed that there is indeed XOHM available in Chicago (albeit unannounced), it's time to put it to the test!

On the official XOHM site, potential speeds are quoted at 2 - 4 Mbps download and 0.5 - 1.5 Mbps up. There have been rumblings that the actual speeds don't live up the hype, but here's what we found:

Zyxel Mac206M2 Home Modem: We tested the Zyxel directly connected via ethernet to a Mac Powerbook running Leopard. We performed three tests, about 3 hours apart, to account for fluctuations. Those internal antennas built into the modem must really do their job - the average download speed was about 4.5Mbps, faster than XOHM's promises. The upload speed averaged at about 1.2, which, while not as impressive when compared to the download, is still well within the range quoted by XOHM. So far, so good!

For the Samsung SWC-E100 ExpressCard, we switched to a Toshiba laptop running Windows Vista Home (remember: the ExpressCard does NOT work with Macs). Despite the fact that we were in the same location, the results were markedly different. Download came in at 3.1Mbps and upload at just 0.8, right in the middle of XOHM's promise but disappointing after seeing how the Home Modem did.

It is definitely very exciting to see these types of speeds. The true test, though, will be how it holds up as the service becomes more popular and the network traffic increases.

For screenshots and more, check out 4Ginfo.com

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As you may have noticed - or read on the 4G Forums! - there have been XOHM sightings in areas besides the officially announced Baltimore region.

So how can you access the network? You need to register your modem and service, but you need to use an address that IS covered in Sprint's official Baltimore network.

No problem! We have created a super-simple step-by-step set of instructions so that you can get your modem up and running in places like Dallas, Chicago, or Philadelphia. Check it out on 4Ginfo.com and start XOHM-ing!

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