[wp_campaign_3] As Technomads, Cherie and I depend on mobile data – it is our lifeline to the world. For the past two years our primary connection has been through Sprint, and for the most part we have been happy with the speed and coverage we have gotten from our EVDO rev A capable data card.
A primary reason we picked Sprint over Verizon was because Sprint was offering “unlimited” data, and Verizon at the time had redefined “unlimited” to equal 5GB and had begun kicking off users who exceeded this.
Soon Sprint followed in Verizon’s footsteps and also mandated a 5GB usage cap. And in the past year, both Sprint and Verizon have started to charge overage fees for anyone who dares cross this 5GB limit.
On both services, your first 5GB is $59/month. On Sprint, each additional gigabyte is $50. On Verizon – each gigabyte of additional usage is an insane TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS. Things are even worse on AT&T – their current overage charge adds up to $480 dollars per gigabyte!
When Verizon first announced these overage charges last year, I worked out that a single mouse click within iTunes to purchase a TV series could easily cost you over $2000 if you happened to be using the Verizon network. Outrageous!
Even though our contract with Sprint remains grandfathered in with the original terms, we have grown very conscious of our data usage and strive to keep under 5GB every month. It isn’t always easy, but we manage.
But now Sprint has progressed even further in limiting how their customers use their service. The newly released SmartView 2.22 driver upgrade came with no release notes and no apparent new features, but once you install it Sprint has the gall to actively prevents you from using the built in connection sharing feature in Mac OS X.
Trying to share a connection now results in this error message:
We have always used data connection sharing to allow both Cherie and I to work online at the same time. It is simple and works fabulously. But Sprint’s latest upgrade is now actively preventing us from doing so.
The new SmartView software even disconnects your EVDO connection if you make a local WiFi connection to another device, even if you are just trying to talk to a WiFi connected printer or iPhone!
Fortunately, Mac OS X has built in driver support for many EVDO cards – including the Novatel EX720 that we use. When using the Apple-provided driver, things continue to work as normal. On Cherie’s laptop we had never bothered to install Sprint’s SmartView drivers, and her computer is still able to connect, share data, and use WiFi just fine.
On mine however, sharing is blocked… Now I need to look for a way to safely roll back to an earlier Sprint driver, or to remove the Sprint driver entirely and revert back to the OS-provided default.
Fortunately, we have this option. Some newer EVDO cards are not supported in the OS, forcing you to use Sprint’s SmartView.[wp_campaign_1]
If you can avoid using the Sprint SmartView drivers – I encourage you to do so. The only advantage that the Sprint driver ever provided was that you could use your data card as a GPS…
We often however don’t even plug our Sprint card into our laptops, instead using a Cradlepoint CTR-350 router to create a WiFi hotspot. The CTR-350 still works fabulously, and continues sharing like a champ.
Sprint even directly sells and officially supports other models of EVDO to WiFi routers that exist specifically to allow for multiple computers to share a single EVDO data connection. How on earth can Sprint justify selling some devices that are made for data sharing, while at the same time they are “upgrading” their drivers to prevent laptops from being able to do this?
It doesn’t make any sense. But then again, in my long years working in the mobile industry, I have learned that “making sense” is rarely a priority for mobile operators.
UPDATE: A tip on the EVDOforums has shown me a way to re-enable sharing in the new SmartView 2.22 drivers. Sprint has now tucked away a new undocumented “Allow Simultaneous Connections” setting in the hardware preferences pane, defaulting to off. You can see the relevant setting here:
It sure is nice of them to document this rather critical change!
I wonder if this is just the first step towards blocking sharing entirely?