JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
David Oyadomari, Sprint director of marketing, yesterday held one of the new EVDO-equipped cell phones. Downloads and streaming feeds using the device are substantially faster than for any other cellular service available in the islands.
EVDO: Speed on the go
Sprint Hawaii rolls out a high-speed data service for cell phone and laptop users
IN WHAT executives are billing as a first-of-its-kind service in Hawaii, Sprint Hawaii today will unveil a new broadband wireless data service that will enable customers to watch television over their cell phones or wireless laptop computers and access data files previously too big to download over cellular networks.
Although Sprint's major local wireless phone competitor, Verizon Communications, also has rolled out the speedy technology in some markets, it has not yet done so in Hawaii. And that gives Sprint the lead out of the starting blocks in the race for market share here.
Like much new technology, the broadband wireless service has an imposing formal name, "evolution data optimized," and an acronym, EVDO. Sprint is using the more colloquial "Sprint Power Vision Network" to describe its brand, which encompasses not just the technology, but also the streaming content that encourages the need for it.
Sprint has invested approximately $1 billion nationally to implement EVDO, which it is rolling out in 64 metro areas this month. In Hawaii, the service will be available at Honolulu, Kahului, Lihue and Kona airports and on Oahu in two large zones, one stretching from Kapolei to Portlock, the other encompassing Kaneohe and Kailua.
"In lay terms, it's faster and more secure, and it's mobile," said David Oyadomari, director of marketing for Sprint Hawaii.
WITH SPRINT'S previous generation service, for example, users could not download streaming video, Oyadomari said, and it would take nine minutes to download a song. Now customers will be able to watch streaming video, including NFL football and Looney Tunes cartoons broadcast over the Sprint Power Network, and downloading a song will now take about a minute, Oyadomari said.
Customers can tap into the system using Sprint cell phones or laptop computers.
For business customers, the service means workers in the field will be able to open mammoth files, which is good news to Leonard Loventhal, executive vice president of Central Pacific HomeLoans' retail banking business.
A subsidiary of Central Pacific Bank, the firm has built business issuing $100 million in mortgage loans per month in part by going out to meet customers rather than forcing them to come into the bank to apply for loans.
Although current technology allows executives to process loans in the field, some big documents, such as appraisal reports, can be slow to download, Loventhal said. The new technology, he said, will change that.
"Now you're working at the same speed, whether you're in the office, in your home or out meeting with your customers," Loventhal said.
This speed comes with a substantial price tag. Sprint plans to charge existing phone customers $59.99 per month for unlimited service; others will pay $79.99 per month, Oyadomari said.