What is Mobile Broadband?

With the advent of 4G networks, the distinction between cellular networks and the Internet have completely blurred, to the point that for most of the world, there is no distinction made at all. Broadband is considered to be roughly the speed of Internet access one can typically get over a mobile network, and for most people, mobile broadband provides a sufficient level of access, coupled with unprecedented freedom of movement while connected. Because mobile broadband is supremely convenient, people in most of the world access the Internet from a mobile device as their first choice — and we are already at the point that for most people, broadband means 4G speeds, not the gigabit speeds to which research universities are accustomed. In 2012, the ITU estimated 1.1 billion mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide, with 45% annual growth over the past four years. As the increasing array of always-connected (via 4G) handheld devices — tablets, smartphones, e-readers, and more — become more pervasive, and as access to faster, more open, free networks via direct connection or 802.1x networks continues to fall off or becomes more tightly controlled, the demand for mobile broadband access will increase at the expense of demand for more capable networks. In much of the world, especially in developing countries, it is far easier and less expensive to install mobile broadband infrastructure than it is to provide the fiber needed to support gigabit networks. As a result, it is becoming commonplace in most of the world for learning institutions to rely on cellular networks for Internet access. In the developed world, one of the advantages of BYOD is that the infrastructure does not need to be built, managed, or supported by the institution, which adds another incentive for schools to move to mobile broadband.

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Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Larry Larry Feb 8, 2012

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • A well planned network strategic plan includes wired, wireless, and mobile broadband. BYOD and 1:1 initiatives must consider how students access educational resources when not at school. This is especially true for students that live in poverty and becomes a civil rights issue if certain groups are prevented from access to education resources.- ryan.tomaps ryan.tomaps Jan 30, 2014
  • Anytime anywhere learning almost demands it. This is the tool that will help to level opportunities for students, since so many schools are in rural places where "comcast" is not available. In fact there is school in the center of downtown Fresno that can not get the cable company to provide internet, that block of town isn't wired for it. Would have to pay $30,000 to get the cable company to put it in. Web changes education, any schools without web access are leaving their students behind. Taking advantage of mobile broadband solves a lot of problems and opens many doors. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 1, 2014
  • In Africa, mobile broadband is the dominant way most communities access the Internet, often via their mobile phones.This has pushed broadband usage to 11% this year from just 2% in 2010. But cellphone companies are reluctant to build costly masts and networks in remote rural areas — meaning hundreds of millions of African learners and teachers have little prospect of going online. The experiment with TV White Spaces may be the music of the future over the course of the next five years. The three pilots currently under way in Africa need to be observed closely and critically - shafika.isaacs shafika.isaacs Feb 9, 2014
  • Mobile broadband is just one of the pieces of a well planned and maintained networking infrastructure. It needs to be accounted for in design as well as implementation, especially in parts of the world where physical buildout of networks is complicated and difficult.- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Feb 9, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • How will eRate and other state and federal funding address this issue- ryan.tomaps ryan.tomaps Jan 30, 2014
  • The possibility of schools hosting cellular towers. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 1, 2014
  • The prospect of harnessing TV White Spaces in remote rural areas such as in Africa - shafika.isaacs shafika.isaacs Feb 9, 2014
  • Harnessing dynamic spectrum for education - shafika.isaacs shafika.isaacs Feb 9, 2014
  • How this fits into filtering and other concerns for legal liability. - alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Feb 9, 2014

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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