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Can you give a defintion of mobile broadband?

Last Edit: 10/01/10

Mobile Broadband has been described as 'broadband on the go'. The difference between a standard Internet connection and a mobile connection is the lack of wires. Mobile broadband comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the standard factor is the lack of cables, enabling a user to browse the Internet wherever they like.

Some of the benefits of mobile broadband,

- Flexible, you can choose to roam or stay static.
- Easy to use, simple switch on a mobile phone etc.
- Cheap, depending on the package, it can prove cheaper per month.

The two most popular ways to access mobile broadband,

- Mobile telephone, such as an iPhone, smartphone or Blackberry.
- Home computer with an installed portable modem for wireless access.

Mobile Handset

Out of the two, Internet access through a mobile phone is more convenient. The size is smaller and more portable. There is little to no setup procedure and additional hardware.

In the UK, WAP, which stands for 'Wireless Access Protocol', was the first option developed by mobile network operators. It suffered from a slow download speed.

After the failure of WAP, mobile phone operators have developed four new ways to get the Internet into your mobile phone.

  1. GPRS, short for 'General Packet Radio Service', runs at a similar speed to dialup.
  2. EDGE, short for 'Enhanced Data Global Evolution', runs at twice the speed of GPRS.
  3. 3G, much faster the two above options, with speeds similar to landline broadband.
  4. Wi-Fi, access is through hot spots in urban areas or through a home network.

The drawback to Internet access via a mobile handset has been the display. The good news is that new handsets, such as the iPhone, have an increased display size and quality.

Home Computer

There are two current options,

  1. 3G dongle, with speeds similar to landline broadband.
  2. Wi-Fi, access is through hot spots in urban areas or through a home network.

The most common type of wireless connection is through Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is a wireless local area network. To access Wi-Fi in your home, all that is required is an Internet service account, a wireless router or USB dongle (a small modem) and a Laptop. Another option is Wi-Fi hotspots, they are provided in public places, such as airports, cafe's or shops.

The distance provided by a wireless router is usually twenty metres or so. Which allows a user to connect to their router from a Laptop in any part of their home or garden. One issue is that people from homes in the local vicinity can also connect to the router. While the router's access can be secured, many are unwittingly left open to access.

Mobile access via a 3G dongle is less common. 3G access is not nationwide, so many people will not be able to access this service. If you can access a 3G wireless broadband signal, then will need a 3G access account and a USB 3G dongle to plug into your computer.