After a full week of having my Nextel Wireless Broadband service and card, I must say that so far I'm currently a very happy customer. The coverage within the coverage area that I have traveled is excellent. I have found that in some large buildings the signal is unavailable, but so far this has been rare. In an unplanned experiment on Friday I used the service to listen to the live .Net Rocks broadcast while traveling about 20 miles. The coverage during the trip was solid and I never a missed a minute of Rory and Carl's interview of the Channel9 team.
[It should be noted, that Nextel and Flarion do a great job and make very clear that this device, as with other mobile devices such as cell phones is not designed for user while driving and should only be used when it is safe to do so. In my case, my Tablet PC sitting on the seat next to me acted like a radio without any need for direct attention. Be safe with your mobile devices!]
I have been very impressed with the speed of the device. I seem to typically see speeds of around 900kbps with bursts higher. In areas with very low signal the speed has dropped down into the 400-500 range, which is still faster than many other wireless services. Top speeds have been in excess of 1mbs, and for much of the week has actually been better than the performance of my cable modem, which despite marketing claims of now being twice as fast, has been performing pretty poorly the lately.
Overall I think this product is a great solution. I understand that Nextel is still investigating other wireless technologies before committing to building a national network, but if this is the minimum we have to look forward to, the future of wireless broadband is extremely exciting.
If there are any other software developers out there looking at targeting this type of mobile platform, drop me a note. I think this is a great area of opportunity for field service, real estate, other industries on the go.