What is EVDO and How Does it Work? (Evolution-Data Optimized)

What Is EVDO?

EVDO, or Evolution-Data Optimized, is a method for establishing a high-speed broadband internet connection, no matter where you are. But what is EVDO, and how does it work?

You can get EVDOs as various devices that you hook to your mobile device or computer to establish an internet connection when you’re not close to a free WiFi hotspot.

When you use an EVDO, you’re establishing an always-on connection with speeds similar to DSL. Many people who travel for work use EVDOs to keep a steady link to their virtual workspace.

What is EVDO?

EVDO is known by other names such as IxEV-DO and EV-DO. But they all mean the same thing, which is Evolution-Data Optimized. But it also stands for Evolution Data Only.

This form of technology is 3G – third generation – and requires a subscription with a phone carrier to establish a data connection.

Using an EVDO creates a hotspot for your device in any area where your cell phone would get reception. But if you can’t get a 3G connection, you can still have a connection.

Because these devices also work with 2G – second-generation technology – which is slower but still capable of connecting to the internet. Any connection is better than none, in my opinion.

Be Cautious When Using Abroad

If you plan to use your EVDO during international travel, it’s crucial to find out the regulations you might face through your carrier. Some providers charge extra fees for connecting to a network in a different country.

But your provider might offer a global plan, which allows you to use your EVDO in any country around the globe. But these plans can be expensive, so do the math to figure out what is right for your needs.

You also need to find out what standard is being used in the area where you are traveling. Your EVDO uses CDMA – Code Division Multiple Access – frequencies.

But in many foreign countries, they might use HSDPA – High-Speed Downlink Packet Access, which would be incompatible with your data carrier.

How Does EVDO Work?

EVDOs are available in different types of devices, such as USB, PCMIA cards, or an Express Card that you can insert into your compatible mobile device or computer.

To establish an internet connection, you usually have to download software that your phone carrier supplies. Once you’ve got that done, you insert your EVDO into your device any time you want to establish an internet connection.

Once your EVDO is attached to your device, it automatically launches an always-on 3G internet connection. Always-on meaning that you never have to log in to use the internet. You click on a web browser and get to work.

EVDO Specs

EVDo works by using IxRTT, which means Single-Carrier Radio Transmission Technology. This technology is built to 2G standards, which is why even when you can’t get your expected 3G connection, you’ll still have 2G.

But when you do have your 3G connection, such as when you’re in a busy metropolitan area that has plenty of cell towers, you can expect speeds from 500 kilobytes per second up to 800 Kbps. In some places, you can even see speeds up to 1400Kbps.

If you plan to be traveling to rural areas where coverage might be spotty, you can purchase EVDO antennas that will boost your signal. These devices are usually portable and connect right to your computer to increase the EVDO signal.

EVDO Routers

If you’re part of a business that relies on out of the office work, you might have to connect to VPNs – Virtual Private Networks.

Many companies have decided to use EVDO routers, which provide a VPN hotspot for anyone close by with the proper credentials.

If you have a team working in the field and everyone needs to be able to access the internet, EVDO routers might be an excellent investment for your company.

What Can You Do Using An EVDO?

When you use EVDO as a way to establish your internet connection, you are getting a stable high-speed broadband connection.

Your speeds will be enough to be able to stream movies, browse the web, send emails, host video chats, and work on documents.

Anything you can do with your home WiFi, you can also do with your EVDO, but at slower speeds. But remember it depends on where you’re at as to what speed you’ll be using.


When you decide to use an EVDO for work, you can establish a secure connection with your corporate Virtual Private Network.

All of your connections and exchanges are encrypted. So you don’t have to worry about your transmissions getting intercepted.

Where Can You Use EVDO?

Because EVDO devices work on the same lines as cell phones, you can use an EVDO in almost any metropolitan area and get high speeds and connections.

But when you travel outside of the city, you might be worried about not having any service because there are fewer cell phone towers.

But EVDO can roam networks to provide coverage as low as 2G, which is slower than the standard 3G or even 4G that can be found in many busy cities.

However, in very rural areas, you might notice a lack of service, even from the 2G range. That’s why many people use EVDO antennas to boost signals in low service areas.

How Do You Get an EVDO?

If we’ve convinced you that you should get an EVDO to use for working while traveling, let us explain the steps you need to take to get yours.

The first thing you’ll want to do to get your EVDO is to shop around for different data plans. Check with your current cell phone provider to see if they offer a discount for bundling an EVDO data plan with your phone plan.

Other customers might find it cheaper to establish an EVDO plan with another carrier. If you’re going to be doing a lot of traveling, check the rates for using your data in other countries.

Be sure you also check the service map to see if you will have availability. Some smaller cell phone carriers cannot operate in foreign countries.

Pick Your EVDO Device

To use EVDO, you have to have a compatible device. Some computers and mobile devices are specifically designed to accept PCMIA or Express cards, which are one form of EVDO.

If you want to use EVDO with your current technology and it doesn’t come with a card reader, you can choose to get an EVDO USB flash drive that plugs into your USB port to deliver a high-speed broadband connection.

If you’re not the only one who will be using the EVDO connection, you can purchase the router instead, which allows multiple users access to the same network. This option will run you more in costs than a USB drive or card.

Choose Your Plan

Once you’ve decided how you want to connect to the internet using an EVDO, you’ll have to pick a plan. Each cell phone carrier has a different policy for varying prices. Take the time to shop around to find the package that meets your needs.

Pay attention to the speeds, how much data you can use each month, any hidden fees such as roaming or accessing the network outside of your area of coverage, and view the map to see where you will have coverage.

Remember that not all cell phone carriers are created equal. If you want to have internet service in a wide variety of areas, including internationally, your best option is to pick a more extensive network that has offices throughout the globe instead of just one country.

Set Up Your Connection

Once you’ve picked out your EVDO and your plan, you’re ready to install your gear and get started using high-speed broadband internet anywhere you want, regardless of WiFi or hotspots.

Your carrier should have recommended the software necessary to let your EVDO establish a secure connection to the internet. After you have installed this software, it runs in the background.

Take the time to set it up as soon as you get it so you can be sure it’s working correctly. You don’t want to end up without a connection and turn to your EVDO only to realize it’s not working right.

Once you have your EVDO software installed correctly, you’re ready to access the internet. Any time you want to establish a connection, plug in your EVDO device and power up your computer. Navigate to your preferred web browser and get to work. It’s that simple.

Is EVDO Right For You?

Now that we’ve explained all there is to EVDO – Evolution Data-Only or Evolution-Data Optimized – it’s time to figure out if this option is right for your internet needs.

If you need a reliable high-speed internet connection while you’re traveling, EVDOs could be the solution to all your problems. Just make sure you can afford the monthly service costs from your cell phone provider before you make a decision.

Vivian Choi

Vivian lives in Brooklyn. She went to school at Stony Brook University, where she studied Computer Science and English. She’s created apps, designed websites, and even published a few short stories. When she’s not coding or writing, she likes walking with her husky named Roscoe.