Verizon LTE: New Network, Obsolete Installation

I recently got a chance to try out Verizon Wireless’  new LTE network using an LG VL600 USB modem lent to me by the carrier. The modem, though bulkier than its 3G equivalents worked fine and the network, admittedly lightly loaded, was terrific, routinely producing downloads of 10 megabits per second or more even though I had only two or three bars of coverage.

LG VL-600

Photo: Verizon Wireless

The installation procedure was another matter, and makes you wonder just what the folks at Verizon were thinking. Every USB modem that I have used for the past couple of years has contained its own software. Plug it into a laptop port, the operating system recognizes it as an external storage device, and you run the setup program (or it runs itself if you are rash enough to leave Windows autorun enabled.)

The VL600, however, requires that you install software from a CD before plugging in the modem. The problem, of course, is that many laptops, especially the highly mobile units for which the LTE option is most attractive, no longer include optical drives. You either have to find that USB DVD drive that you can’t remember when you last used, or, as I did, copy the install files from a desktop to a network drive and run setup from the network.

Verizon should either include the software on the modem or give users an easy URL to download the setup code from the web. The install CD is dead, and it’s long past time to bury it.

Verizon should also move quickly to add Mac support for its LTE modems. The VL600 would be a wonderful addition to my 13″ MacBook Air, and in general, MacBook owners are likely to be an enthusiastic audience for the LTE service. but there’s no software for it. Some users have reported luck in getting Macs to work with Verizon’s other LTE modem, the Pantech ULM920. But no such luck with the LG.

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2 Responses to “Verizon LTE: New Network, Obsolete Installation”

  1. Rich Says:

    “The install CD is dead”? Apple uses it for Snow Leopard.

    • swildstrom Says:

      A DVD, actually, but true enough. You can download any version of Windows and then just buy a license. With a fast connection, even a download of a couple of gigabytes isn’t that big a deal. I suspect the reason Apple doesn’t sell downloads is that they have always resisted a Microsoft-like system of authentication keys and allowing downloads without requiring a license key is an open invitation to piracy.

      Of course, the only Mac sold without an optical drive is the MacBook Air and it comes with Snow Leopard installed and with a thumb drive you can use to reload the OS. I suspect that by the time Lion ships Apple will find a way to sell it through downloads, probably through the Mac App Store.

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