I've been looking to get Verizon wireless internet access for my laptop. What is the latency like when you're using the service? All the information I can find references their download speeds, but I'm wondering how my ping times will be like when I'm playing World of Warcraft. Is it comparable to using a standard ISP? Would you trust it enough so that you could cancel your cable internet at home and not experience a lot of outages or downtime?
I've used Verizon EVDO (BroadbandAccess) and 1X (NationalAccess) service through PCMCIA cards and phones (E815 via Bluetooth, VX4500 via cable) regularly for almost 3 years in Columbus, Pittsburgh, New York City, and many of the areas around and between them. (EVDO hasn't been around for 3 years, but 1X has. I've used EVDO for about a year and a half.)
The only significant difference between 1X and EVDO is the transfer speed - latency and reliability are nearly identical.
For both EVDO and 1X service, the usability of the connection drops significantly with weaker reception. If you have less than 60% reception, don't even bother.
Latency is pretty bad, usually allowing for pings of no less than 400-700 ms. Real-time games and remote terminals aren't very usable.
It's not too bad for web browsing, although loading a page with a bunch of images and external elements takes a while because of all of the separate connections it has to initiate.
The maximum downstream bandwidth in reality is around 400-800 kbps, with upstream of 70-150 kbps. With such high latency, this produces a strange effect if you're not used to it: pages take a while to start downloading, but once they start, they transfer at almost-broadband speeds. This also means that most of the bandwidth isn't being used most of the time, so you can parallelize and open a bunch of pages simultaneously (or fetch emails, etc.) without much overall slowdown between tasks.
If you're stationary, the connection is very stable and rarely drops. When it does, I have to reconnect (it works like dialup, where it's not always on and you have to "connect"), but I've rarely had the service be unreachable as long as I have phone reception.
I wouldn't trust a fragile 3-hour game over it, but with the latency, this really isn't a gaming platform anyway.
It's great as a secondary ISP for when I'm commuting or traveling. And Verizon's offering is far better than those from other carriers.
But you can't:
It can't be your only service, but it's great as a secondary "anywhere" service when you're away from a real connection.
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