In what is surely a sign of things to come, Sprint will provide an EVDO Rev. A software upgrade for its HTC Mogul handset, making it the first mobile broadband enabled handset. Upgraded Mogul’s will have true broadband wireless access, with download speeds ranging from 600 kbps to 1.4 Mbps, and upload speeds of 350 to 500 kbps. Previous speeds available to the Mogul before the upgrade, range from 400 kbps to 700 kbps downloads and uploads of 50 kbps to 70 kbps. Prior to the Mogul, mobile broadband has been limited to laptops which utilize either a laptop card or a built in wireless modem. Broadband enabled handsets have been in play for some time, but have used primarily Wi-Fi for their broadband access. The Mogul will now have true broadband anywhere there is EVDO Rev. A coverage (BTW, don’t you love our industry’s acronyms – try explaining EVDO Rev. A to a lay person).
Mobile broadband should see considerable expansion in the months and years to come. Wireless carriers are positioning it as a differentiated and value add service. A knock on the popular iPhone is its lack of a true mobile broadband option. Sprint seems like an unlikely first to market candidate given their troubles of late. But they may prove to be a big early player in mobile broadband with the Mogul and with promised WiMAX enabled handsets due by the end of this year. It may prove to be one of the few competitive bright spots available to Sprint – one that they would be wise to exploit.