Verizon latest to offer Internet, untethered
By Sean Hao
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Sean Hao
Verizon Wireless today joins the growing ranks of high-speed wireless Internet service providers in Hawai'i.
With download speeds of 400 kilobits to 700 kilobits per second, Verizon Wireless' EV-DO service gives consumers another alternative to tethered cable and telephone-line based broadband Internet services. But at a price of $79.99 a month, the new service will have to compete against lower priced alternatives from companies such as Clearwire and SprintNextel.
SprintNextel launched its own EV-DO service in Hawai'i in January 2005. The price for that service ranges from $39.99 a month with a 40 megabyte download limit, to $79.99 for unlimited service.
SprintNextel was followed in August of this year by Clearwire Corp., which launched a wireless broadband Internet service in Honolulu priced at $29.99 for download speeds of 768 kilobits per second, to $36.99 for download speeds of 1.5 megabits per second. That excludes a $4.99-a-month modem rental fee.
Both Verizon Wireless and SprintNextel tout the mobility of their services. Clearwire's service, while portable, is meant mainly for use from fixed location.
"If I went down the road in my car I could actually be surfing the Internet (and) downloading e-mail from here (downtown) to Hale'iwa and back," said Paul Dickey, data solutions manager for Verizon Wireless in Hawai'i.
Verizon Wireless has spent $100 million on its Hawai'i network in the past five years in order to offer new services such as EV-DO, the company said. EV-DO stands for Evolution Data Optimized network. The new service is available on O'ahu, Maui, the Big Island, Lana'i and Kaua'i.
"Verizon Wireless now offers the largest Hawai'i wireless broadband coverage of any carrier," Dickey said.
SprintNextel's service is available on most of O'ahu and Maui and at the airports in Hilo and Kona on the Big Island, said Nonie Toledo, general manager for SprintNextel in Hawai'i. The company plans to expand coverage on Maui, Kaua'i, the Big Island and O'ahu in coming months in preparation for launching a faster Internet service in March.
SprintNextel's wireless broadband service is meant for travelers who need Internet access on the fly.
"With the Sprint EV-DO service you're free to go nationwide as well as the Neighbor islands," Toledo said.
Daryl Schoolar, a senior networking analyst at industry research firm In-Stat, agreed that Verizon Wireless and SprintNextel are meant mainly for people needing mobile Internet access.
Meanwhile, Clearwire's service, which is available on O'ahu and Maui, is targeted at home users.
"Every other cellular data services I've seen are really geared toward nomadic business travelers," Schoolar said.
Kevin Inn, general manager for Clearwire's Hawai'i operations, said the Hawai'i market is big enough for Clearwire and its wireless competitors.
"I think the key is that people want to be untethered and that's what we all provide," he said.
Reach Sean Hao at email@example.com.