Ubiquitous Data Coverage
I had a nice chat with Carolyn Schuk, who occasionally writes for voxilla.com, but also had a story published in the San Jose Business Journal about EV-DO and how it represents a huge step-up from WiFi hot-spots, mostly in availability. Then she gets a dose of reality: it doesn't work in Yosemite. Is there cell phone coverage in Yosemite?
There are plenty of issues in getting out a nationwide wireless data network. Not the least of which is that even the large carriers don't own significant portions of the network their customers can use. Because carriers don't own towers everywhere, they fill in the gaps by signing roaming agreements with each other. Because of the competing standards in the USA, mostly CDMA and GSM, with small amounts of TDMA and AMPS (analog) thrown in, not all carriers can roam on each other's networks.
Particuarly in rural areas, the carriers that provide service are smaller carriers who don't have the customer base to support providing advanced data services. Or, if they're like Western Wireless and Alltel, they have set aside a portion of their CDMA spectrum for GSM roaming in some areas. They operate a GSM network only for roaming revenue and thus probably wouldn't see the need to spend the money to deploy advanced data services. The cost to get the network ready to support EV-DO or HSDPA is not cheap and it takes a long time to deploy.
As things stand today, I wouldn't expect EV-DO or HSDPA/UMTS to be truly deployed nationwide for some time to come. There are going to be plenty of pockets where you use GPRS, EDGE, 1xRTT or similar technologies, if anything.