Whenever you use the internet on your phone, you’re using data. These activities include; browsing the web, reading and sending e-mails, checking Facebook and Twitter, sharing photos, downloading applications, downloading music, listening to online radio and watching videos on YouTube. Downloading and using apps will also take a slice out of your data allowance.
Mobile broadband is the marketing term for wireless Internet access through a portable modem, mobile phone, USB wireless modem, tablet or other mobile devices. Although broadband has a technical meaning, wireless-carrier marketing uses the phrase “mobile broadband” as a synonym for mobile Internet access. Some mobile services allow more than one device to be connected to the Internet using a single cellular connection using a process called tethering.
The first wireless Internet access became available in 1991 as part of the second generation (2G) of mobile phone technology. Higher speeds became available in 2001 and 2006 as part of the third (3G) and fourth (4G) generations. In 2011, 90% of the world’s population lived in areas with 2G coverage, while 45% lived in areas with 2G and 3G coverage. Mobile broadband uses the spectrum of 225 MHz to 3700 MHz.
The bit rates available with Mobile broadband devices support voice and video as well as other data access. Devices that provide mobile broadband to mobile computers include:
- PC cards, also known as PC data cards, and Express cards.
- USB and mobile broadband modems, also known as connect cards.
- Portable devices with built-in support for mobile broadband, such as laptop computers, netbook computers, smartphones, iPads, PDAs, and other mobile Internet devices.
Internet access subscriptions are usually sold separately from mobile phone subscriptions.
In 2011, 90% of the world’s population lived in areas with 2G coverage, while 45% lived in areas with 2G and 3G coverage, and 5% lived in areas with 4G coverage. By 2017 more than 90% of the world’s population is expected to have 2G coverage, 85% is expected to have 3G coverage, and 50% will have 4G coverage.
A barrier to mobile broadband use is the coverage provided by the mobile phone networks. This may mean no mobile phone service or that service is limited to older and slower mobile broadband technologies. Customers will not always be able to achieve the speeds advertised due to mobile data coverage limitations including distance to the cell tower.
In addition, there are issues with connectivity, network capacity, application quality, and mobile network operators’ overall inexperience with data traffic. Peak speeds experienced by users are also often limited by the capabilities of their smartphone or another mobile device.
The growth of Mobile Broadband
It is estimated that there were 6.6 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide at the end of 2012 (89% penetration), representing roughly 4.4 billion subscribers (many people have more than one subscription). Growth has been around 9% year-on-year.
Mobile phone subscriptions are expected to reach 9.3 billion in 2018. At the end of 2012, there were roughly 1.5 billion mobile broadband subscriptions growing at a 50% year-on-year rate. Mobile broadband subscriptions are expected to reach 6.5 billion in 2018.
Demand from emerging markets has and continues to fuel growth in both mobile phone and mobile broadband subscriptions and use. Lacking a widespread fixed-line infrastructure, many emerging markets leapfrog developed markets and use mobile broadband technologies to deliver high-speed internet access to the mass market.
Keep Mobile Internet Data in Check
Have you ever found yourself exceeding your data allowance on your smartphone or tablet? Perhaps you thought everything was okay but didn’t realize that you had exceeded the amount of data you were allowed under your contract until the bill arrived.
The fact is, mobile Internet is very rarely unlimited. Even if you have a 50GB allowance, once you finally manage to exceed this (perhaps you’re using your smartphone as a wireless hotspot), you will be charged for any data beyond this limit.
To combat this, you need to think smart. The first step you should take is to use Android’s built-in tools to setup a limit on your mobile data. This can be done in Settings Data usage. With data switched on, tap Set mobile data limit and then specify a warning level and a limit.
You can also restrict background data by opening the menu and selecting the corresponding option. Although not as accurate as your carrier’s metrics, it should be enough to ensure you don’t exceed your limit.