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Wednesday March 17, 2010 1:42 pm

Sprint Overdrive 4G mobile hotspot rescues iPhone from AT&T hell

Sprint Overdrive 4G

I’ve been playing with the Sprint Overdrive 4G mobile hotspot device that the company sent me a few weeks ago, and I’ve gotta say, this thing has come in handy way more often than I thought it would. So much so, in fact, that I find it to be an essential tool and I carry it around in my left jacket pocket everywhere I go at this point, and charge it over USB when I am in the car driving somewhere. I’ll be giving a few examples of how the 4G Overdrive device has come in handy over the next few days, but I wanted to start with this one because I know so many iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS owners out there that cry to the heavens to be saved from the vile clutches of AT&T and their constant network FAIL.

A week ago, I was at an event at Seattle’s Key Arena. Everywhere I looked, there were people with iPhones. They were snapping pictures, texting, making calls, and some (like me) were even recording video, despite that kind of thing technically not being allowed at live events. I decided to take my dastardly deed to the next level, and figured I’d upload the bootleg footage to a social network or two. Just your typical Facebook, YouTube, and maybe Posterous. This is where things got spotty. I don’t know if it was the fact that I was inside of a huge arena, that I was amidst possibly thousands of iPhones in a concentrated area, that 3G just doesn’t enjoy uploading a video that is a full minute long, or an odd concoction of all of those, but it wasn’t working out so well. In fact, the upload failed three times.

I figured AT&T was sucking, and that all the phones were clogging up whatever tower that we might all be connected to, and figured I’d try again later at home. Then I remembered that I had the Overdrive in my pocket. Since I live in Seattle, I’m able to connect to the faster network, but the Overdrive does provide the benefit of falling back to 3G when you leave a 4G area. Anyhow, I fired up the Overdrive, and the iPhone connected to it over Wi-Fi. I retried uploading the video, and within 15 seconds it was done. I was happy, and the Internet as a whole was a better place, thanks to my contribution.

Now, this isn’t to say that AT&T sucks and that Sprint is awesome. We all know that AT&T has the hottest-selling smartphone out there, and that is bound to cause some congestion. Rather, we are focusing on 4G, and the Sprint Overdrive device in particular. The fact is, I was unable to accomplish the seemingly simple task of uploading a moderately short video using my regular AT&T connection, since it kept failing. The failing wouldn’t have even been that annoying if it didn’t take a good 3 minutes or so to alert me that it failed each time. Standing in the same spot, I switched on the 4G access point, and in under 30 seconds, I was done. That’s powerful.

Like I said, I definitely have more examples of how the Overdrive has made things more convenient for me, and I will go over more of that in my next post on the device, where I look at how it allows up to five devices to use its 4G connection. I have some ideas for how users can take advantage of that with future mobile devices like the as well.

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