Franklin EVDO USB Modem Review - CDU550

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Wednesday, 09 August 2006

CDU-550 EVDO USB Modem by Franklin for Sprint Mobile Broadband

An EVDO USB Modem For Mac and PC Users is Here!

This modem has been discontinued. Click here to view currently availble Sprint EVDO modems

An EVDO USB Modem has been on the wish list of many people for a long time (see EVDO USB Modem - Discussion on EVDOforums). Why is a USB EVDO device important? Many lightweight laptops and Tablet PCs do not have the standard PCMCIA slot and most EVDO Cards are PCMCIA-based (ExpressCard is also a new format found in newer laptops). However, USB is a standard that is found on every laptop, desktop and tablet PC! Many computers that do not accept a standard Broadband card can now access Sprint's Mobile Broadband via USB. Computers such as iBooks, the PowerBook 12 Inch, MacBooks, some Dell latops, PC Tablets and many others now have an option.

What You Get

When you purchase an CDU-550 USB Modem, you get the following items: EVDO USB Modem, carrying case, USB Y Cable, Manual, Windows Setup CD.


Other pictures posted on the internet show the CDU-550 modem as being rather large. After receiving a CDU-550, though, we were able to confirm that it is actually quite small. Here is a picture comparing the sizes of the new CDU-550, Novatel V640 ExpressCard and the Kyocera KPC650.



CDU-550 and Windows 2000/XP

Included with your CDU-550 is a Franklin version of the Sprint Connection Manager software. This software is used to program/activate your modem on the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network. You will have to program/activate your modem before it will work. Important Note, when you purchase your CDU-550 from us with New Sprint Service, the modem will come pre-activated and ready to use.


After the card is activated for the first time (we do this for you with new Sprint Service, if you are purchasing the card as an upgrade to an existing account, contact Sprint to do an ESN Swap), you will see the Franklin Connection Manger (a Franklin-branded version of the Sprint Connection Manager). All you do is click the Go button to connect to the Internet and the Stop button to disconnect!


CDU-550 and Intel Macs

Your Intel-based Mac must be running Mac OS X 10.4.7 (or greater). Apple built EVDO support directly into 10.4.7 and the Franklin EVDO USB Modem is recognized after you plug it in.


Note, if you purchase your card without Sprint service, you must insert the CDU-550 in a Windows PC to complete the programming/activation. When getting a CDU-550 WITH Sprint Service, we will always activate it before sending it to you.

CDU-550 and PowerPC Macs (G3/G4/G5)

Important Note For Mac PowerPC Users

The Apple drivers built-in to Mac OS X 10.4.7 do not support the Franklin CDU-550 when running on your iBook, PowerBook, Desktop G3/G4/G5 or any other PowerPC-based Mac

If you have a PowerPC-based Mac, you will have to go through some extra steps to get the Franklin EVDO USB Modem working. After you follow these steps, you will NOT see the menu bar like you see on an Intel based Mac. You will not see the signal strength in the menu bar OR additional information that an Intel-based Mac user would see, BUT you will still be able to connect to the Internet at high speeds.

The EVDO USB Modem and an iBook G4:


The EVDO USB Modem and a PowerBook 12":


The EVDO USB Modem and a PowerMac G5:


To Configure your CDU-550, follow these steps:

Insert your CDU-550 and open System Preferences. Click on Network

You should see the following dialog. Click OK:


Pull down on Network Status and select CMOTECH CDMA Technologies


Enter Sprint in the Sevice Provider field. Enter #777 in the Telephone Number field.


Click the Modem tab. Select Sprint PCS Vision for the Modem and disable the Wait for dial tone before dialing option.


Click Apply Now.


Click on the PPP tab and click Dial Now. Then click Connect!


After connecting, you should see the following screen indicating that you are connected to Sprint's Mobile Broadband Network:


There are some additional steps to follow for a better connection experience. If you purchase the CDU-550 from us you will receive additional instructions to set up your PowerPC/Intel based Mac.

*** Another Limitation/Issue when running under PowerPC Macs ***

You must disable any additional network connections such as Airport and Ethernet to use this device. Failure to do this may cause the CDU-550 to disconnect after being used. If you are using Airport, be sure to disable it before connecting to the EVDO network.

CDU-550 and the Kyocera KR1 Router

The current firmware of the Kyocera KR1 does not support the CDU-550. This means that you cannot plug the CDU-550 into the KR1; it will not work. For the latest information on this topic visit: Kyocera KR1 and Franklin USB Modem CDU-550-

CDU-550 Performance
We tested the CDU-550 on a Windows PC and benchmarked it against Sprint's Merlin S620 PCMCIA Broadband Card. We ran a variety of tests and at times the CDU-550 slightly outperformed the Merlin S620 and other times, the Merlin S620 outperformed it slightly.

If you are getting slower then expected upload speeds (below 50Kbps), try using the Y-Cable. This will give more power to the device and may increase speed. Also, if you are in a weaker signal area, using the provided Y-Cable may also help with performance, especially when you are in a weaker signal area.

There is no antenna port on the CDU-550, so there is no way to hookup a booster antenna, however, by adding a USB Extender cable, you can position the modem in a better location, especially away from the RF noise that is created by your computer. (you cannot do that with a PCMCIA card).

Why The Y-Cable?

Under most operating conditions, the CDU-550 USB Modem will operate well when inserted into one single USB port and you do not need to install the Y-Cable. But in some rare occasions your PC or Mac's USB port may require more power to operate. When your PC or Mac displays a warning message indicating that "the USB device has exceeded the power limit", use the Y-Cable to draw power from 2 USB ports to the one EVDO modem. However, on PowerBooks 15" & 17" , there is 1 USB port on the left side and one on the right side; the supplied Y cable will not work without an extender USB Cable.


We are an authorized Sprint Reseller, so we are able to process your order whether you are an existing Sprint customer or a new customer! We will set up your account and send your EVDO modem to you ready to use (we can even pre-activate for Mac users).

If you already have a Sprint account and are purchasing this device to replace your old EVDO PC card, your cost will be 299.99. After purchasing you will need to call Sprint @ 888-211-4727 and request an "ESN Swap" to transfer your service contract onto your new device. Give Sprint the 8-digit ESN number on the back of the device and Sprint will give you a MSL and MSID number that you will need during the initial activation.

We run the Franklin EVDO USB Support Forums. These forums are open to everyone, however, those that purchased directly from us will get priority support on EVDOforums. Also, Mac Users will get printed directions on how to setup and use their CDU-550 when they order from us - a service you will not find anywhere else!


The Franklin CDU-550 USB Modem is the first USB EVDO device available in the US. This device will only work with Sprint - it will not work with Verizon's Broadband network (if you are looking for a Verizon EVDO product and you have an ExpressCard you will need the Novatel V640 card).

The CDU-550 provides broadband speeds. While it is not quite as fast as a PCMCIA data card, it did very well in our tests.

If you have a Windows laptop, the supplied Connection Software is easy to use and works very well. If you are an Intel Mac user, you have the hassle of having to activte the CDU-550 in a Windows PC before it will work in your Mac (we offer this service when purchasing from us), but once activated it will work smoothly. If you are using a PowerPC-Basaed Mac (G3/G4/G5), besides having to activate your modem in a PC first, you will not see signal strength in your menu bar. Instead, your EVDO USB Modem will operate as a super fast modem. This requires some extra setup, but as you can see from above, it is fairly painless to do.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 22 February 2010 )
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