I previously blogged about my frustrating experiences with an AT&T aircard. It was highly unreliable and caused extreme annoyance due to its ability to consistently connect. Fortunately, I was within the return window and so sent the unit back to AT&T and then switched to a Verizon wireless card. The Verizon experience has been completely different.
My company has not certified Verizon’s new 4G LTE cards which the carrier is heavily promoting. Instead, I received a UMW190 instead. One unexpected benefit of the UMW190 is that it also includes a GSM radio and so will work outside of the US. This is helpful for world travelers, but I do not believe that it supports 3G GSM.
In short, the card has been solid. Everywhere I have tried it whether in congested airports, cities or rural areas, the card has just worked. To be fair, performance can be inconsistent ranging from around 60 Kb/sec to 1,000o Kb/sec. However, this is mobile data and so I had expected as much. Interestingly, I did notice a bit of signal stability issues when I used the card at an event with 400 people, but at its worst, the card still outperformed the lackluster AT&T unit.
I do see a need for LTE. This card is great for general email and web surfing, but is not fast enough for bandwidth intensive activities like streaming video. Since I primarily use the card for work, it meets my requirements quite effectively. However, if I need to download or upload large files, a WiFi or wired connection is a better choice. (To be clear large file uploads/downloads work fine, but are slow.) I cannot help but wonder how much faster everything would go if I had the LTE model.
In summary, if you are considering an air card, do not bother with AT&T. Your best bet is to go with Verizon Wireless. Interestingly, I am potentially getting an Atrix 4G on AT&T which has wireless hotspot functionality and so I may have another opportunity to test AT&T in the future.