XOHM WiMAX In Baltimore: Speed Tests With XOHM ExpressCard

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We went to Baltimore today to check out America's first fully-functional XOHM city for ourselves. Earlier today, we had a hands-on experience with XOHM using a Nokia N810 WiMAX tablet. Since then, we've gone out and purchased an ExpressCard adapter, installed it, and have run a bunch of tests in comparison to a Kyocera EV-DO card on Verizon Wireless' network.

Unless otherwise noted, our tests were conducted from a Starbucks on Charles St. in Baltimore, where the signal for both carriers was strong. Our test notebook for the day was a Sony VAIO VGN-Z591U.

XOHM installs just like a regular ExpressCard mobile broadband unit does. You simply plug it into the side of your notebook and install the driver software. Once you launch the XOHM Connection Manager, it will search automatically for the XOHM network, and if there is one available, you simply need to connect and then log in at the XOHM portal site.

From the XOHM portal site, we were free to search the Web. You can also connect to Wi-Fi networks using the XOHM connection manager if there isn't a XOHM network available. We also love that whenever you plug the ExpressCard unit in, XOHM automatically connects.

Check out our results where we compare XOHM to EV-DO below.

Web Pages / Downloads

We tried visiting the home pages of several popular Web sites using both our XOHM card and a Verizon EV-DO connection and timed the results. We also installed iTunes and downloaded a 233.3MB video of MTV's Rob and Big.

Web Page / Download XOHM WiMax Time Verizon EV-DO Time
Nickjr.com 0:15 0:50
CNN.com 0:14 0:28
NYT.com 0:21 0:36
Laptopmag.com 0:12 0:19
233.3MB iTunes Video 6:10 24:00

For some reason, neither network delivered great Web surfing times from our Starbucks location. However, if you look at the difference carriers, XOHM WiMax just plain blew away Verizon EV-DO. To be fair, the EV-DO speeds we experienced were significantly slower than what we normally see at home in New York and we're betting XOHM was also slower in that location than it should have been. But if we just look at the differential, we're talking about a speed increase with XOHM of 50 to 300%, depending on the page.



We tried watching a video on Hulu.com with both mobile broadband services. On Verizon EV-DO, which actually has a policy against using their service to watch video, it took 13 seconds before our video began playing and the video paused twice in the first minute to rebuffer. It would have continued to rebuffer if we kept watching. On XOHM, we saw a little jerkiness but the video started after just 9 seconds and never paused to rebuffer.

World of Warcraft

In our gaming tests with World of Warcraft, the difference between the Verzion and XOHM services was indistinguishable: we didn't see much lag at all from either network and both delivered an identical 49 frames per second. Perhaps Warcraft is not that bandwidth intensive.


File Transfer Test

For our file transfer test, we downloaded a 25MB MP4 video file from our FTP server and then uploaded it again using Filezilla. XOHM excelled, smashing the 0.75Mbps speed of EV-DO by uploading the same file at a quick 2.4Mbps pace. XOHM also excelled in download speed by returning 3.05Mbps to EV-DO's 1.43MBps. This is great for video editors who want to get clips online quickly.


We were able to Skype just fine as long as we kept our video in a windowed mode and not full screen. Once we bumped it up to full screen the video was a bit choppier, our caller's voice dropped for a few seconds, and voice audio was out of sync with the video most of the time. However, as you'll see in our windowed chat, voices came through well and movements were, for the most part, fluid.


Coverage & Pricing
The worst part about XOHM is its coverage right now. Baltimore is the only city you can use the service in today. It will spread to Chicago and Washington D.C. next. Following that, there are plans for XOHM to expand into Dallas, Forth Worth, Boston, Providence, and Philadelphia. Large cities like New York and Los Angeles remain off of the radar, which is frustrating. At least here in Baltimore we never found the edge of the XOHM coverage area.

XOHM costs $10 for a day pass, or $25 per month for Home Internet service and a $30 monthly On-the-go service. There's also the option of a $50 “Pick 2 for Life” monthly service plan. EV-DO on Verizon Wireless, by comparison, costs a sky high $39.99 for just 50MB of data usage or $59.99 for 5GB of data. Additionally, you need to have a 2-year contract. However, this option remains the most attractive for travelers because of Verizon Wireless' extensive nationwide 3G network that's available to 256 million people-- not just the population of a single city. Like Verizon, Sprint and AT&T have fairly broad mobile broadband footprints, with pricing in the same ballpark.

During our entire day of testing XOHM, we didn't lose a connection while we were stationary. We were able to test inside Baltimore's train station, as well as inside a few eateries downtown.

In a moving vehicle

InfoWorld reported that Clearwire's mobile WiMAX solution in Reno didn't work in cars, so we got in a taxi and asked the driver to take us for a joy ride while we did some more testing on video. We were able to play World of Warcraft just fine, browse the Web, and even begin streaming Hulu videos. We did notice that while uploading video, we averaged about 1.2Mbps, which is half as fast as it was when we were stationary. Furthermore, we dropped a XOHM connection during one part of our trip. However, we were quickly able to reconnect as we continued to move, so we still hadn't reached the edge of the coverage.


Of course, EV-DO is capable of this, too. Last Friday I took a bus ride from New York City to the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania and streamed the presidential debate live. While I ran into plenty of dead spots and had some lag, the experience was still enjoyable and worthwhile. XOHM doesn't cover these great distances yet, so again, travelers will want to stick to EV-DO for now.

Final Thoughts
So far we love XOHM. The file transfer speeds are far superior to 3G, and we are big fans of the option to subscribe for just a day, or share it across multiple devices.

We used the same account that we signed up with using our Nokia N810 this morning on our notebook, without having to tell XOHM that we switched devices. That means your buddy with a XOHM card can quickly log on using your account when you're not setup, totally eliminating useless monthly fees for the few days that you or a family member wants mobile broadband access.

The biggest bummer is that XOHM is only available in Baltimore right now. Is it worth it when it comes to your city? Absolutely, the monthly charges are less and you aren't bound to a contract. If you're a traveler, though, you may want to hang on to the multi-band options that allow EV-DO or HSDPA connectivity as well as XOHM options.


Add a comment
  • zarl Says:

    it's fun coming back to this post years later after WiMax has run it's course. It's not truly over yet... Clearwire will support wimax until at least 2015... but Sprint has officially announced they will be releasing no new wimax products. The Samsung Epic 4G Touch(Galaxy S II) will be the last WiMax smartphone. although Sprint did announce they will be releasing a EVDO/WiMax/LTE hotspot this summer...

    As much as I love Wimax.. it was pretty fail. It never took off outside of major cities. No one offered it besides Clearwire(and a few very small companies in limited markets).

    I'd love to see WiMax stick around long enough to see the "m" revision but it probably isn't very likely.. at least in the United States... I'm sure Japan will adopt it ;)

    Hopefully this page is still around come 2015 when we should know the next step of WiMax :)

  • Sushma Says:

    Hi Todd
    I am a student at University of Colorado and we are writing a paper on WiMAX. Is there anyway we could all your test results? or has it been published anywhere yet for us to reference it? These tests are exactly what we were looking for.

    Does anyone know where the test results of WiMAX Baltimore are published? please tell me.
    Thank You

  • George W. Lewis Says:

    1. Why hasn’t this been tested by an independent agency or organization?

    2. Why can’t anyone tell me that if 20,000 people in Chicago are on Wi-MAX at the same time whether there will be problems or not?

    3. Why would I need this if I have Comcast cable for my TV and internet connection in my home?

    4. How many people at any given time are walking around the city with their laptops looking for an internet connection? I have never had to do that in my life and I am a CPA consultant.

    5. I live in Zion, IL and am 50 miles from Chicago downtown and ride the metro train. Will I be able to connect in Zion, and send and receive emails from my laptop or my Nokia N810 Wi-Max Internet Tablet?

    6. Some companies are saying that this is the next answer to cell phones. So I can throw away my cell phone and rely on Wi-Max and my laptop or N810 to talk to anybody in the world?

    7. Why did Wi-Max fail in Australia?

  • Beerman Cold Beer Says:

    After struggling for years with my residential DSL from Verizon I switched last week to XOHM. Actually, I am running both for a month or so until my contract with Verizon is up and I can cancel without penalty. I also wanted to run both just in case XOHM wasn't ready for prime time.

    Pricing for my residential DSL is $49.95 per month plus tax on a 2 year contract.
    Pricing for a home and a mobile XOHM (two devices) is $50.00 per month with no contract required.

    I have tried many tests, including VOIP, RDP Remote Desktop, CITRIX,VPN to my work, bit torrent, pinging, youtube, Speakeasy TEST, FTP of large files, and Slingbox. In every single test the XOHM service blew the doors off of the DSL connection.

    I travel quite a bit so i am keeping my Sprint / tethered Blackberry solution for out of town travel but in and around Baltimore I am now pretty much 100% XOHM.

    Verizon Fios will be available in my area shortly and I image that Fios will likely provide a better connection than XOHM. However, XOHM is available now (in Baltimore), doesn't require a contract, and is fast enough for all normal purposes that I might have for my residential internet. Setup was easy, and when I get some time I will see if it goes even faster if I move the "modem" from it current hiding place in the back of my basement to an area in the front of my house. So far anyway XOHM works as advertised and is a great deal at only $50.00 per month for two devices.

  • other Says:


    Great i have a question do you know if sprint is using 802.16e or .16m

    If sprint is using .16e, is it just a software upgrade or full hardware to get to .16m

  • Wimaxinis Says:

    its local, vut its more better than 3G....

  • LTE who? Says:

    HSPA is probably using Speakeasy, etc. for non-reliable testing results..........Wimax will be 10 times those speeds while you're locked into a contract......

  • Jan1Jan1 Says:

    Indeed a lof of non-factual information in this post.

    I'm a member of the WiMAX Forum (standards settign body for WiMAX) and also of the 3GPP2 (standards setting body for LTE). I can safely say I know both technologies, and they are surely comparable, I would argue even more than 80% the same. In fact the only reason they are not also compaTable is politics (Intel = non-telecom is behind WiMAX, which is easily witnessed as the WiMAX Forum Chairman is also Development Director of Intel worldwide. 3GPP2 = friends-circle of the big telcos is behind LTE. These two boedies don't like each oter).

    I agree with some that it will be a benefit to have choice. Choice of providers of services (AT&T, Sprint, etc.) is important, choice of non-compatible technologies leads to inefficiencies. I can reassure you though: already system-on-a-chip manufacturers are planning handsets capable of both WiMAX and LTE combined. In fact they will be capable of WiMAX, LTE, GSM and CDMA. How does this work? Such devices have a Baseband and several RF (Radio frequency) radios. If properly engineered this Baseband can serve for all these technologies, and sends the signal in a uniform way to the RF radios. Your device has a few RF radios for GSM (4 GSM radios if it is a quad-band worldphone), two for CDMA, one of two for WiMAX (one for 2300-2700MHz and one for 3400-3700MHz), and one or two for LTE (likely 600-800Mhz and 2100-2200Mhz). Every radio adds costto the manufacturing of the device. If you fancy to roam accross all these technologies you take a device capable of all these, which means that you could - say - take your AT&T GSM device and roam on WiMAX whilst on holiday in the Dominican Republic's beaches, or perhaps take your Sprint XOHM WiMAX device in Baltimore and roam on Sprint's CDMA network whilst om business in New York (and CDMA-RevA lower data connection speed).

    WiMAX has two flarvors with one new one coming up.
    802.16d-2004: Fixed WiMAX. Dying a slow but sure death, not compatible to 802.16e-2005.
    802.16e-2005: Mobile WiMAX. All recent commercial deployments in the world use this.
    802.16m: Mobile WiMAX standard about to be published (draft widely agreed in the WiMAX Forum). Will be fully backwards compatible to 802.16e-2005. This standard has same performance goals as LTE,a nd both are likely to be approved by the ITU as 4G technologies, (largely 4G means above 100Mbps download speeds whilst moving at high speed). NOTE: LTE standard is a draft, 802.16m standard is a draft.

    The WiMAX Foum has standards for TDD (time Division Duplexing) and now makes them for FDD. LTE is planning FDD standards and recently decided to also make them for TDD. So even this will be the same soon, (again note that soon is important because LTE does not yet exists formally, so it is ALL about 'soon', somethign often forgotten).

    I'm happy to share more insights directly from inside the standards setting bodies, just ask.

  • HSPA is better Says:

    *****Hey, i'm getting 5.4 Mbps downloads and 2.1 Mbps in a HSPA network ********(mature network- on mobility - Lot of backhaul capacity for 14.4 Mbps HSPA flavor network). ZTE express card.
    So, where is the point to buy WiMax if you only can get 3 Mbps on a unloaded network.

    WiMax is not 80% OFDMA... Access to resource is also part of the standard. Frequency Band of the technology, Carrier choice (crapy 2.5 Ghz or in worts scenario 3.5 Ghz) WiMax is not good at this.
    HSPA is doing a good work at it 850 Mhz, good accessibility and mobility performance.
    Wi Fi... What for???, i got signal everywhere.

    My express card was cheaper (for free in 2 years contract). No need for credit card on line and all that waste of time on the network and looking for a store to buy it.

  • LTE who? Says:

    Good post my 2 cents! Let's not forget that Wimax can be embedded into applications such as digital cameras, etc. which really changes what the user requirements are, i.e. take pictures and pay a one time fee using Wimax to send them to you email account, etc. Competition will help adoption and if the competition didn't think Wimax was something special, then LTE or whatever wouldn't be in the plans.

  • My 2 cents Says:

    I just want to add a few comments:

    1. WiMAX and LTE are OFDMA technology. They are almost 80% the same. WiMAX has time to market advantage now. LTE will catch up especially since big carriers like Verizon and Vodafone announced they will go LTE.

    2. Yes, WiMAX was approved as a 3G technology. But so what...you can be called any name...they key thing here is performance. If WiMAX and LTE perform, at certain time, similarlily and LTE will be called 4G (once they finish defining the 4G) then WiMAX version m can be called 4G.

    3. Personally, I think the big operators are going to fight WiMAX since they already invested in WCDMA or CDMA 1X EV-Do Rev A. For those who are following the GSM route, LTE is the natural migration path and they will fight WiMAX. For those who are CDMA 1X based, LTE will be a good migration path to bring them back into the main stream GSM-route. Verizon is working with Motorola on testing this CDMA-LTE migration path and I personally think it is a smart move since GSM proved to be the Global cellular standard of choice and no sense of keep fighting this in North America. LTE can be the road where all different parts of the world can meet.

    3.WiMAX comes in 2 flavors: Fixed (d) and Mobile (e). Clearwire has lots of pre-WiMAX equipment but their plan is to go to Mobile WiMAX. In fact, most class 1/big vendors support the (e) version alone. Other smaller vendors support the (d) and some of them even the (e) version.

    4. In my view, if the big operators focus on WCDMA and LTE, then WiMAX will be a niche market (may be 15-20%) of the overall wireless market....but I think it presents a good opportunity for new operators to get in this industry without paying heavy license fees (as we have seen so far worldwide).

    5. In conclusion, I think competition is good. WiMAX will have a chance since Intel is behind it. All of us take WiFi for granted now when we are in a hotspot because our laptops are equipped with it. Once Intel support WiMAX (same as WiFi) then we all would not mind that especially when you can access the Internet from a City-wide hotspot using WiMAX. In fact, Intel already announced WiFi/WiMAX chip set and has plans on embedding this into laptops (I know Ericsson is supporting strongly embedding EV-DO into laptops as well).

    6. All in all, let consumers have a choice.....thins will benefit all of us.

  • LTE who? Says:

    Wimax has mobility. Just go to Baltimore and check it out. I see alot of talking in here without fact. Wimax has capabilities up to 60 Mbps and beyond once MIMO, etc. are rolled out. The technology is new and I've seen over 8 Mbps on the download and over 3 Mbps on the upload. Sprint/Clearwire, or whatever the name will be, has to build out or lose spectrum.

    VOIP is a service option within the technology but not offered at the moment. I GUARANTEE you are not getting 3 Mbps continuous for EVDO or HSPDA on the download. You may get a burst here or there. HSPDA may be a little faster than EVDO but the last time I checked, the upload speed still lagged EVDO REV A.

    Some enhancements with REV A were the added modulation and coding schemes, as well as DRC offset which corrects access terminal overestimation. There is also a DRC pointer added that creates communication with the EVDO device to the target cell site whereas for less handover latency, with rev 0, data transmissions have to cease and the new site handed over to with the best CINR before transmissions re-establish.

    Wimax has all of this and enhanced at that, it has more backhaul than EVDO, and it has more spectrum than the 1.25 MHz. At 10MHz, you should be able to get 1024 subcarriers minus the pilots and preambles leaving well over 700 subcarriers....

    The real downside to the technology is the frequency which will have lower in-building penetration demanding more sites, but the sites are much cheaper to build and can use existing assets I'm guessing for co-location.

    Currently, I believe Clearwire is on a different standard than Wimax, I want to say 802.16d, correct me if I'm wrong, and it is set up for fixed location.

    Bottom line is, 3G or whatever you wanted to call it could generate an average of maybe 80 kbps. Three or four years later we have EVDO that can reach up to 3.1 Mbps on the upload and like 2.4 Mbps on the down from what I understand. We have a new product that is still being tested and worked on that can provide faster service. As far as coverage, it wouldn't be such a bad thing to be backward compatible to EVDO REV A now would it. I bet that's in the plans too. If the speeds can increase that much in 4 years, imagine where Wimax will be when the competition finally catches up, or launches to say the least. Sprint/Xohm/Clearwire or whatever is positioned very well in terms of spectrum and I'd push my chips to the center of the table on this one.

  • cdma-solutions.com Says:

    Thanks for the review... But in all fairness.. If it can't do voice you need multiple devices... If your comparing 1 user on 10Mhz- channel to 1 of many users on 12% of that spectrum you can't put much value on the results other than to say Xohm works Where we already have WiFi ... so what's the point..

    HSPA and EV-DO offer Wide area broadband coverage (National and International) WiMAX is at best a Metro area network.. your on an island with WiMax and will likely need a 3G subsciption anyway

    Competition is good So I welcome WiMax (as it puts fire pressure on 3G evolution and LTE But I wouldn't bank on it outside of DSL replacement where it applies (clearwire moto and Alvarion model)

  • B.W. Fargo Says:

    Not buying it!

    Notice that the article says that the Express Card used did both Wi-Fi and WiMAX. There was a good chance that the card had defaulted to Wi-Fi, especially since they did the test from Starbucks. Either way, if you are in a hot spot and not moving, the performance will be good. WiMAX works for fixed, but not mobile. The point is, this was not a very well thought out nor professionally demonstrated controlled test.

    The mobile test conducted is about consistent with EV-DO performance and conducted in a WiMAX favored area. Try doing it over a wide area and compare the results. It was mentioned the use of EV-DO in the mountains of Pennsylvania with reasonable results -- can’t do that with WiMAX without spending trillions of dollars on base station equipment.

    It states the best rates of 3 Mbps for WiMAX downlink. Qualcomm demonstrated 20 Mbps at the Barcelona show last year. The WCDMA carriers will be rolling this technology out very soon since it’s only a software upgrade to most base stations, and their networks already cover most of the US and Europe.

    If the world economy were going gang-busters there would be a niche market for WiMAX. With credit for new networks drying up, I think the opportunity for WiMAX has passed. If the WiMAX Forum had their act together when the carriers were looking for the next best thing, they might have wedged out LTE. As it is, even LTE with the carrier’s backing is becoming less and less urgent.

  • LTE who? Says:

    Dear Prakash,

    Xohm is not spelled Xhom. You obviously have some bias against the Wimax technology(Probably a Verizon employee). Whether there is one user or a thousand users on the EVDO system, Wimax or 4G as you like to call will blow it away. Xohm is in it's infancy and hasn't even begun to reach it's capabilities. It'll be what, 5 years, maybe a minimum of 2 for the other carriers to come up with some competition? The only real difference between EVDO 0 and A is the that you get a bump in download speed while there is more improvement in the upload from the added modulation and coding schemes. Of course if Wimax isn't your thing, you could still use Sprint's EVDO Rev A product as it's faster than Verizon's too. Just ask Telephia. Bottom line is this, Wimax will be hot, and when other enhancements are made, i.e. MIMO from what I understand, Xohm will be far ahead of the competition. At what point does a customer notice a difference between 8 Mbps and 9 Mbps? Only when they have two devices sitting next to each other. The other carriers will just have to sit there and be limited by the REV A standards and backhaul bottlenecks until they can come out with LTE. This product was just launched and the potential has no limits.

  • XOHMGUY Says:

    He didn't get that from me... Everyone else come see us at the Arundel Mills Mall.. We are located in the food court... Get ur XOHM today.. Ask for Brad

  • ZMAN Says:

    BAH; HUMBUG!!!

  • Prakash Says:

    iN fact WiMAX (16e) was accepted into IMT-2000 standards as 3G recently

  • Prakash Says:

    We are back to the Gs again. There is nothing called 4G, because there is no official definition for it. 3G was officialy defined by IMT-2000 (ITU). Going by this precedence, IMT-Advanced will define 4G.
    There is no 3.5G either.

    There is also HSPA+ which is an upgrade to HSPA. HSPA+ provides much better user experience (data rates, latency etc) than WiMAX. AT&T is pushing hard on this one.

    Xohm/Sprint/Clearwire has to spend more billions and years to match EV-DO/HSPA coverage.

  • Wilson Says:

    Alan is correct saturation is really the bottom line, as yo moved you were above 125 per sec or so but when you were still, you were above 300-400 .. that was awesome, but real life.

  • Ben Says:

    I don't think it is "worthless". That extra spectrum should translate into more capacity and lower fees for users. Make no mistake, WiMax is 4G and EVDO is 3G (or 3.5G if you like). Once the coverage is there, the only technology that'll give WiMax a run for it's money will be LTE, which we'll apparently see from Verizon and AT&T in a few years.

  • Prakash Says:

    Loading and spectrum.

    As somebody mentioned, EV-DO had ton's of activer commerical users when you were doing this test, where as probabaly you are the only one on WiMAX network/site. So the comparison doesn'thold too much value, even from user experience perspective.

    Did you make any comparisons in terms of battery life between WiMAX and EV-Do that would be interesting to see.

    Xohm is using about 30 MHz of spectrum, compared to 1.25MHz of EV-DO. If you compare bang for buck for each MHz of spectrum, Xhom looks worthless from an operator perspective.

  • Joe Shade Says:

    On your Skype demo I noticed a couple of things that I think might be helpful for other users. First of all the little "flippy-thingy" that's part of the Xohm laptop adapter is the antenna. So keeping it upright (forming a 90 degree angle) will probably provide a few dB improvent in signal to noise, giving you a performance boost. Also try to keep objects, especially metal objects off the antenna when in use. I notice that you had you car keys resting on top of the antenna. That probably degraded the performance somewhat. Good performance from this adapter in spite of all this (you were indoors too) is a positive thing though!

  • Alan Says:

    What was the relative loading of each network. If you were the only user of the xohm network but there were 10,000 users on the evdo network, then all of your statistics are meaningless. Both systems share bandwidth, it mostly comes down to how many users you are sharing it with.

  • Todd Says:

    EVDO Rev. A

  • Iggy Says:

    What's the ping time? Ping google.com from a command line.

  • boe Says:

    I may have missed it but did you specify if you were comparing XOHM to EVDO or EVDO A?

  • Honor Du-al Says:

    I do not think your taxi driver approved of your internet surfing.

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