Initial Feedback on Verizon's EVDO Express Card/34

by Daniel Raffel

I received, and started using, the Novatell V640 Express Card/34 with my Verizon EVDO account a few nights ago. The following are my initial thoughts.

First, the good news:
1. For Mac users the updated VZAccess software is a Universal Binary. The Novatell V640 is the first dedicated mobile EVDO solution I've found that's compatible with OS X on my Apple MacBookPro.


NOTE: It is not necessary to install the VZAcess software to use this card, Mac OS X ships with built in support!
This was Updated on 10/25/06



2. Speed wise I have witnessed some great rates: 1254 kbps down; 116 kbps up. On my first SF to Silicon Valley commute I was able to maintain connectivity the entire way (on I-280 no less!) I did notice brief losses of connectivity.

Now, the bad news:
1. Verizon's VZAccess Manager software (3.0.1 build 1463) isn't compatible with the Cisco VPN software 4.9.00 (0050) I need to use to access the corporate network. (I was able to successfully ssh to a proxy box and forward specific ports but that's an additional pain.) Note: the previous Kyocera PCMCIA card I was using worked fine with VPN so I assume that this is a software issue. I've contacted Verizon to let them know about the issue. Considering many business users are EVDO subscribers I consider this a **major** problem


NOTE: Cisco is now shipping VPN Client 4.9.01 (0030) which works with this card. As mentioned below in one of the comments it might still be necessary to go to the terminal and (a) unload and then (b) load the drivers but I can confirm the software does in fact work when connected via EVDO. Here's how to load and unload the drivers:

UNLOAD:
sudo kextunload /System/Library/Extensions/CiscoVPN.kext

LOAD:
sudo kextload /System/Library/Extensions/CiscoVPN.kext
This was Updated on 10/25/06


2. When restarting the computer with the card inserted I get an annoying message "Starting up your computer with your Expresscard installed has prevented VZAccess from recognizing the device. Please eject and re-insert the Expresscard." This is just silly, how can the software detect the card to display this message but not actually detect the card!

Picture 28.png

3. Other minor details, the VZAccess s/w has a couple of strange interactions and some trivial button actions don't work.

Quick Tests:
I was able to make/receive VoIP calls using Gizmo, Skype and Yahoo Messenger so none of my desired ports appear to be blocked (yet).

Overall feedback:
Based on my limited experience testing connectivity and coverage this is a decent MacBookPro EVDO offering but I would definitely expect Verizon to quickly work with Smith Micro to revise the software that's available so that it doesn't feel so wanky.

18 Comments

Mike
2006-08-11 09:13:40
If you are running 10.4.7, you don't have to install the Verizon SW... just plug in the card and go !
Daniel Raffel
2006-08-11 20:24:36
Thanks, Mike! After testing this on another MBP w/out the VZAccess software installed I can confirm it works great!! No need for VZAccess.


What's fixed:
* No more annoying error message about the card at computer startup.


What's not fixed:
* Cisco VPN still doesn't work.


I just finished removing every last piece of the Verizon s/w (files + directories):
/Applications/VZAccess Manager.app
/Library/Application Support/Verizon/
/System/Library/Extensions/SMSIWirelessUSB.kext
/Library/Preferences/VZAccess Manager Preferences

greg stasko
2006-08-13 17:50:40
Could you elaborate about the lack of ompatibility with the Cisco software?


I have a 17 inch MBP, and am eagerly awaiting the EVDO card from Verizon, so very interested in reading about your pursuits.

Daniel Raffel
2006-08-13 18:12:17
Greg:
When I am lucky enough to get the Cisco VPN software to launch it just hangs on "Initializing the connection." However, most of the time when attempting to launch the Cisco s/w I get "Error 51: Unable to communicate with...VPN" and it doesn't even open.


The same s/w works great when I am connected to my home WiFi network/etc.


-D

Mark Steele
2006-08-18 07:09:23
I also deleted the VZAccess software (thanks for the file locations) and was able to connect after a reboot - I too am unable to connect via Cisco VPN - contacting my Verizon support rep to see if there is an update coming out
Mike H
2006-09-13 18:48:37
I'm new to MAC. For years I used a Serria wireless with a Dell without any problems. Like many of you I was anxious to receive the Express card. When I connect to the Universities wireless network I'm able to use the mandated VPN.
However, when I connect to the Internet via the Express card the VPN will not connect.


Do I understand some of your post correctly -- if I remove the VZ manager software the card will still connect to the Internet. If that is correct, how do I get the card to connect to the Internet?

John
2006-09-14 06:59:55
Try this before doing anything:



  1. Quit the VPN client

  2. Unload the VPN drivers: sudo kextunload /System/Library/Extensions/CiscoVPN.kext

  3. Insert card and connect

  4. Reload VPN drivers: sudo kextload /System/Library/Extensions/CiscoVPN.kext

  5. Start the VPN client

  6. Connect


Starting with a couple of 10.4 releases ago, I found I had to follow those steps with my sierra wireless verizon evdo card.

Ray
2006-09-22 11:02:45
I just got the V640 card , and immediately found a problem. Somehow verizon has disabled our ability to share internet service from the card to any other network port on an OS X system. The card does give me reliable internet service , but I bought it so I could be mobile , and share my connection with my partner who has a 12" G4 with no card slot. I have tested multiple ways to try to share the internet service , I even went to the apple store to have a genius check it out. No luck. I am using a macbook pro running 10.4.7
Don
2006-09-22 18:58:49
Pardon this lengthy rant about Verizon and how I came to loath them. It eventually gets around to their Express Card/34.


I recently traded in my PC laptop at work for a MacBook Pro and got excited when the Verizon e-mail arrived saying I could tether it to my Blackberry for $15 a month. I figured it was worth the $175 cancellation fee if I could avoid paying the $59.99 a month for wireless broadband with my PC card (on top of their Blackberry data plan).


"No problem," the sales guy said. "Go home and go to this website and download the software." I went home, went to the site and found there is no software for my Blackberry 7250 and the Mac OS. I called the guy at Verizon who verified his mistake and said I would need one of their brand spanking new Express Card/34s instead. (So much for the savings with tethering.) He also said they had three in stock.


When I got back to the store, he told me they would have to mail it to me because I was doing an upgrade and the cards were reserved for new customers. I was livid, of course, and the manager finally let me have one - for $200. After all of that, I got on the train to work the next day only to find my Cisco VPN software wouldn't work with the card and VZAccess. Unbelievable! It works at my local coffee shop with my Airport card - for free!


Because of the incompatibility, I can't send e-mail, use any of the applications that require KeyAccess on my employer's network, or update web pages (a big part of my job). Thanks, Verizon! Your service is above and beyond.

EVDO FORUMS
2006-09-29 06:32:47
you might want to read about other mac users experiences at the EVDO Forums
kevin custer
2006-10-17 11:08:50
Hey Daniel:
Thanks for the reviews. I am now in need of an Express Card for my MBP and was wondering if this card from verizon is the only card available, and if so, how well does it work with VM's like Parallels do that I can get email in Outlook via Windows?
Ron Lockhart
2006-12-29 14:35:46
Any chance you're come across a client to run an EVDO-enabled Blackberry in tethered mode with a Macbook?


As I'm not a regular user of this forum, I'd appreciate it if you could respond to my e-mail: ceo@msn.com.


Thanks.


Ron Lockhart

Scott S.
2007-02-06 06:39:47
Cisco VPN Client 4.9.01 (0030) is still not working correctly even at this time. I have OS fully patch and latest VZAccess software.
ScottRD
2007-02-20 11:07:26
Scott S, did you follow the steps described earlier to unload and reload the kernel extensions for the Cisco VPN client? It simply won;t work until you do so.
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Larry
2007-07-01 11:24:25
Just a comment here on using the Verizon Wireless BroadbandAccess service (in this case, with a USB720 USB wireless card) with Cisco VPN software: at first the VPN client simply would not start, saying it "could not find a network adapter with an IP address". I followed John's instructions above on my MacBook Pro and it's working perfectly now. Thank you very much!


Instructions copied here for convenience:
Try this before doing anything:


1. Quit the VPN client
2. Unload the VPN drivers: sudo kextunload /System/Library/Extensions/CiscoVPN.kext
3. Insert card and connect
4. Reload VPN drivers: sudo kextload /System/Library/Extensions/CiscoVPN.kext
5. Start the VPN client
6. Connect


Starting with a couple of 10.4 releases ago, I found I had to follow those steps with my sierra wireless verizon evdo card.

prasanth
2008-05-20 08:22:35
i am living near kr puram railwaystaion... but my connectivity is too slow that i am taking morethan 2hrs just to check my yahoo and g mails and orkut........... i tried reliance wimax connection.. airtel mobile connection... now EVDO all are having similar trend only... i am much worried....pls advice me what to do.