The considerable growth of internet has led to the development of newer technologies that aims to provide better accessibility to users. This has prompted its evolution from wired to wireless networks, which is currently used by most users around the world. The introduction of mobile phones has also facilitated this switch to wireless networks. Nowadays, most users access the internet using their smartphones or tablets instead of desktops. The advancements in mobile technology have allowed users to easily access the internet without any hassles.
Mobile broadband is one such wireless network that is now used by many to connect their mobile devices to the internet. Also known as, Wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN), mobile broadband simply refers to the high-speed internet access provided by cellular service providers for mobile devices. It allows you to access high-speed internet offered by a cellular service through your mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. All it requires is a mobile device that is compatible with 3G or any advanced networks provided by the cellular providers for accessing the internet.
In addition, mobile broadband also enables you to access internet on any of your devices such as laptops by using built-in network cards, USB modems, or WiFi hotspots. In this way, it can be extended beyond mobile devices and used for many other purposes. Most of the cellular service providers operating in the United States such as AT&T®, T-Mobile®, and Verizon® offer mobile broadband services to their customers.
Cellular networks now cover almost all areas of the country. Mobile broadband uses 3G and 4G networks for accessing the internet. Most of the regions in the country have access to at least 3G networks. cellular service providers is currently in the process of deploying 4G networks and it is now available only in select regions like the prominent metropolitan cities in the country. However, some areas of the country remain outside the coverage of mobile broadband services and only have basic cellular voice and data service such as 2G internet.
In 2009, only 35 percent of the population got access to a high-speed 3G connection. However, the mobile broadband coverage has witnesses a steady growth in the next couple of years mainly among the 3G services with more than 80 percent population covered. It is also worth noting that 4G network services have also extended its coverage gradually across the years with a current penetration rate of 50 percent. Moreover, these figures are expected to grow in the coming years with both 3G and 4G mobile broadband services estimated to cover more than 80 percent of the population.
The technology of mobile broadband is an advanced version of the packet switching method used in conventional cellular networks. Packet switching such as the General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is a type of mobile broadband technology offered on 2G and 3G networks. They comply with the telecom standards set by the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM). Packet switching means that the cellular network is divided into two channels, one for voice and the other for sending and receiving data.
Switching technologies such as GPRS works via transmitting and receiving data in the form of packets over the network. It can be accessed by either a mobile device or laptop and uses a separate data channel without causing any interference in the voice channel. 3G is another data switching technology that offers data speed ranging from 350 Kbps to 2 Mbps. It is an improvement over the 2G cellular network and its improved speeds and efficiency makes it fall under the category of mobile broadband.
3G has evolved consistently with the use of the latest packet switching technologies. This has made them more efficient along with an increase in the data speeds. Additionally, it has led to the development of the newer form of packet switching such as High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) or 3.5G. This new networking technology promises more speed than the conventional 3G network. In addition, such experiments in speed and efficiency in cellular networks have culminated with the introduction of 4G.
4G or Fourth Generation is based on the technologies of LTE (Long-Term Evolution) and Mobile WiMAX. 4G is employed in most cellular networks today and is rapidly replacing 3G in many cities. The high data speeds, efficiency, and flexible data plans offered by cellular service providers have made 4G the preferred choice of many users opting for mobile broadband services.
WiMAX and LTE are the two main networking technologies currently used for providing high-speed mobile broadband services. These separate technologies enable cellular phones, laptops, and other portable devices to get connected to a high-speed internet service. WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is a wireless standard and wireless industry group developing and advancing the IEEE 802.16 standards used in broadband wireless access networks.
WiMAX is offered by different providers along with their other cellular services and is mostly provided in areas with no 3G cellular service. WiMAX is available for both mobile and fixed wireless users with an estimate data speed of 10 Mbps. The spectrum for transmission and reception varies in WiMAX. In the U.S, WiMAX operates in the 2.5 GHz spectrum whereas the 3.5 GHz is reserved for government and other non-commercial usage.
LTE or Long Term Evolution is the most used cellular technology in mobile broadband. Developed by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), it is an advancement over the earlier 3G, UMTS and other networking technologies. Major telecom companies operating in the U.S is currently providing LTE across several regions in the country. It has more availability than WiMAX due to the large-scale 4G extension projects that are being implemented in different parts of the country by leading telecom providers.
LTE offers increased data speeds with the possibility to provide up to 100 Mbps downstream and about 30 Mbps upstream. LTE uses a spectrum that ranges from different bands such as 700 MHz. It also supports numerous services such as web browsing, VoIP, and other IP services. A major proportion of new including smartphones and tablets are designed to support 4G network connectivity. Some of the key LTE providers in the country are AT&T®, T-Mobile®, Sprint®, and Verizon®.
Mobile broadband offers several benefits over conventional cellular networks. Speed is the one of the greatest advantage of mobile broadband. Both 3G and 4G networks provides ultra fast internet speeds especially the latter, as it allows streaming, downloading and web browsing with much ease. The speeds are also increasing due to the numerous advancements and trials carried out in the networks. The extended coverage is another major benefit of mobile broadband services.
Most of the cellular providers have extended their mobile broadband services as a result most regions in the country have access to a 3G or 4G mobile service. The 3G and 4G networks also promise added security, which is a boon as it prevents the chances of any data breaches while accessing the public WiFi network of the provider.
It also offers users more wireless freedom that enables them to access the networks from anywhere and at anytime. Moreover, most of the leading cellular service providers are also offering more flexible data plans to customers in their 3G and 4G packages.
Mobile broadband services have witnesses a considerable growth over the years. The increasing reliance on the internet today among users has facilitated the rise of such advanced networking technologies. 3G and 4G promises enhanced data speeds that will enable anyone to access internet and enjoy the benefits of the many services it offers. Mobile broadband brings the convenience of using high-speed internet on portable devices such as smartphones and tablets.
This promotes increased penetration of internet among users as studies have shown most of them using mobile devices for accessing the internet. Newer forms of mobile broadband currently under development such as 5G will twice fold enhance the speed, reliability, and efficiency of the networks.
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