By WALTER S. MOSSBERG
FOR YEARS AMERICANS WHO accessed the Internet via cellphone networks
looked across the ocean to Europe with envy. The speed of American
cellphone networks badly trailed those in Europe.
But not anymore. Gradually, and with relatively little fanfare,
Verizon Wireless has deployed a nationwide cellular data network in
the United States that blows away the fastest widely deployed networks
in Europe, the so-called 3G networks that have been rolled out there
to huge publicity. And Sprint is starting its own rollout of a similar
speedy network based on the same technology Verizon uses.
That technology is called EV-DO, for Evolution-Data Only, or
Evolution-Data Optimized. It is the first wireless technology deployed
over a wide area that matches the speed of home broadband - at least
the slower reaches of that wired service. Unlike the most common form
of wireless broadband, Wi-Fi, the new EV-DO service doesn't rely on
hot spots. It's available all over a metro area, wherever there is
cellphone service - even in a moving car.
Verizon has been rolling out the new service, city by city, over the
past year or so, and it is now available in 61 major metropolitan
areas and 65 airports across the country, according to the company.
Because it's based on a technology called CDMA, developed by the U.S.
company Qualcomm and not widely used in Europe, EV-DO has given the
U.S. an edge, even if only for a while.