Sprint ExpressCard EVDO (EX720)

Finally, there is an ExpressCard available for Sprint EVDO, the Merlin™ EX720. The one problem I have had with upgrading to my MacBook Pro was the loss of my Sprint EVDO service. Verizon offered an ExpressCard to its users months ago, while those of us on Sprint had to wait patiently. I really felt the pain last week while travelling. However, yesterday I got my hands on the Sprint EX720, though the Sprint Rep said they were not supposed to be released until next week. Anyway, here is what it took to get it to work. I’m putting this here to hopefully save time for less technically savvy people like myself. (This took a lot longer than I expected.)

The main problem I had was the need for a Windows machine running XP that had an ExpressCard slot. If you have one of those – you are set. If not, then like me you need to find one. My solution involved using Parallels and an old copy of Virtual PC 6 to get the job done without spending any money. Here are the steps:

1. Secure a Sprint Express Card Merlin™ EX720
2. Download the Sprint Drivers for Mac OSX (Select Mac OS) The EX720 will be the Novatel 720. Also download the PDF instructions. UPDATE: Apple drivers are now available.
3. Activate the EX720 using a Windows machine.

  • Here is the rub, you need a Windows box with an ExpressCard slot to activate the EX720.
  • First I went to CompUSA and tried to use a laptop – no joy, could not get Sprint Connection Manager to install on Vista and they had no XP laptops.
  • Next choice would be to find a friend with a capable XP setup.
  • Up until now I have resisted installing Parallels, but figured now was the time.

4. Download and install Parallels. (I used the free trial version.) Boot Camp should also work.
5. Install Windows XP.

  • Yet another rub. Here was where I got lucky!
  • I have an old copy of Virtual PC 6 with a full Windows XP Pro license.
  • Using the instructions found here, I made a bootable XP install disk.
  • Secret for VP6 owners, skip the Service Pack 2 part and use the instructions listed to create these files instead: win51ic.SP1 and win51ip.SP1. Read all the comments, the instructions are in there
  • I then installed my trial of Parallels and used my new XP Pro boot install disk.

6. Install Sprint Connection Manager using your new XP/Parallels install.
7. Insert the EX720.
8. Select the EX720 from the Devices menu in Parallels; it will be listed under USB devices.
9. Run Sprint Connection Manager per the instructions.
10. Get the Account Name & Password from the Sprint Rep when you make the activation call. The Mac Drivers will ask for it.
11. Finish Activation and close Parallels.
12. Install Sprint Drivers
13. Follow the PDF instructions you downloaded when you got the Sprint Mac drivers.
14. Voila!

I will say that the initial speeds seem slower than my old Merlin S620 card. I have a feeling that in the coming weeks when the real tech experts get their hands on these EX720 cards that many tweaks etc. will be coming. But it did connect and it does work. Now, hours later, I can get back to work…

Don’t Miss Out…

Updates and news delivered via email.


  1. Leanne says

    Thanks for the information, MWG. Unfortunately, I have the opposite problem. I subscribed to Sprint about 4 months ago and currently possess a Merlin S720 Broadband Card. About 2 months ago, my old laptop had a hardware failure, and it was time to buy new. I purchased a new HP V3000T, and to my surprise, I could not find a PCMCIA slot for my Merlin s720. After some research, I discovered that my new HP had the new Express 54 slot, only. I contacted Sprint to find out if they even offered the new Express cards, and I was informed that they had just received them but that it was going to cost me $329.00 to upgrade! Not good!
    Do you know of a workaround for this situation? Adapter?


  2. says

    Your situation is much like mine. I signed up maybe 6 months ago. In my case I needed the connectivity for travel etc. enough that I swallowed hard and bought the $300 card. I could not find any work around for use of the old card short of one of the EVDO router options. But who wants to carry around a router just to use the card?

  3. says


    My reception here at the house has always been poor. I’ll run some tests when I get a chance to take the laptop out and about.

  4. Bill says

    There is a PCMCIA adapter for the Expresscard. I found such info on


    I installed my EX720 using Bootcamp XP on my C2D Macbook Pro. It really flies in my location, getting peaks of 1400 Kbps where my Sprint A900 phone with USB connect only got around 540 Kbps. The EX720 install was a snap with Bootcamp though.

  5. says

    Hey I just wanted to say thank you for the great post, this really helped me get my aircard setup and running on my macbook pro. I was looking around for hours for drivers,and finally ended up on your site. Thanks once again for taking the time to lay all of that out.

  6. says


    Glad you found it helpful. That is why I put it up. I know I always look for those step-by-step blog posts when I’m stuck.

  7. jc says

    Great. It only works on apple portables. How am I supposed to use these drivers on a mac mini? Any ideas?

  8. Sal says

    I don’t have access to a Windows laptop running 2000 or XP with an Express card slot. The Sprint store I purchased the card from does not have one either and neither does the other local Sprint store! What an incredible pain in the ass, I can’t believe that Sprint doesn’t have activation software for Mac OS X. I’m taking may card back tomorrow and demand a full refund.

  9. Will says

    I was able to activate my card at Staples. Using Windows Vista. Yep it does work. I know because I did it. I can’t remember how i did it though. Just clicked everything I could. Popped it in the Mac and it fired to life. By the way, Vista kinda looks more like OSX.

  10. dana says

    Hi,I just purchased the 15 inch mac book pro and the sprint express card. It was working find this morning. I had remove the card from the slot…and now it won’t stay in. Did anyone else have this problem?

  11. David says

    I got my card configured on my friend’s XP laptop, and we had the card working on his machine. We moved the card to my MBP and while the system see’s the card, when I click “connect” it doesn’t connect and errors out.

    Anyone have any ideas? The internet connect needs a telephone number, etc. Perhaps I have the wrong modem selected? Which one do I select?



  12. dana says


    Since I last posted, I have gotten my 15inch mac book pro replaced with a brand new one because the express card slot bounces the card out. Anyhow…This incident happen again after 3 days of using the 2nd new computer. Anyone else having this issue with the express card not staying in the slot?



  13. Scott says


    I am having the same issue. I am having sprint send me another card but I believe the same thing will occur. I think Novatel dropped the ball on this one, it doesn’t seem to be designed to accomidate the macbook pro expresscard slot enough to stay in place. Mine is falling out even with slight vibration, like while riding in a car.

  14. dana says

    Hi Scott,

    I gave up on the express card and exchanged it for the usb from sprint. It seems to be working just as fast. I didn’t want to go through the hassle of exchanging the computer or express card…again and again.

  15. Matt says

    Has anyone had ny luck UPDTING the PRL on this card under Windows XP in Parallels?

    I have everything else working fine but when I start the card under Windows on my MacBook Pro it tries to do a PRL update then gives me a COM PORT ERROR CODE 36.

    I can’t find any documentation relating to this error code anywhere.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  16. says

    Thank you so much for this information as the personnel at Sprint where clueless on how to do this. Anyways, a quick note, for those installing your card via parallels, when you run connection manager for the first time it may ask you to update it. DON’T!!!!!!!!! It does not allow you to configure and/use your card, use the client that was included in the install CD.


  17. Mick says

    Dana, Scott

    I talked to Support at Novatel. They recommended affixing a label to the top of card give it some resistance. This was not enough so I then had to add a thick piece of card stock for more resistance and this has worked so far.
    Good luck.


  18. Eric says

    My Macbook Pro expresscard slot broke, this is why card won’t stay in… although it did for about a week. This is known issue at Apple. I rigged up a piece of metal to hold it in. Works fine now.

  19. says

    3G is the third generation of mobile phone standards and technology, superseding 2G. It is based on the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) family of standards under the International Mobile Telecommunications programme, IMT-2000. 3G technologies enable network operators to offer users a wider range of more advanced services while achieving greater network capacity through improved spectral efficiency. Services include wide-area wireless voice telephony, video calls, and broadband wireless data, all in a mobile environment. Additional features also include HSPA data transmission capabilities able to deliver speeds up to 14.4Mbit/s on the downlink and 5.8Mbit/s on the uplink. Unlike IEEE 802.11 networks, 3G networks are wide area cellular telephone networks which evolved to incorporate high-speed internet access and video telephony. IEEE 802.11 (common names Wi-Fi or WLAN) networks are short range, high-bandwidth networks primarily developed for data.


  1. […] Using the great Mint stats program I am able to track the most popular recent posts on this blog. Here they are: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. All time most popular? My Podcast About the Podcast (way back from 12/04) over at Reel Reviews. […]