Mobile broadband (strictly speaking Mobile Internet as the QOS doesn't meet international Broadband definitions) is the name used to describe various types of wireless high-speed internet access through a portable modem, telephone or other device. Various network standards may be used, such as GPRS, 3G, WiMAX, LTE, Flash-OFDMA, IPW, iBurst UMTS/HSPA, EV-DO and some portable satellite-based systems. However mostly the term refers to EVDO (sister system to CDMA-1), EDGE on GSM and HSPDA/HSUPA/HSPA on UMTS/3G/Foma. Such systems piggyback on the mobile phone infrastructure (EDGE, HSPA etc actually share spectrum with voice calls, which have priority). Thus the phrase "Mobile Broadband" is largely a wireless carrier marketing tool. The actual "non-Mobile Phone" Mobile networks are very small subscriber base (Mobile WiMax, iBurst, Flash-OFDMA, IPW and portable Satellite terminals) compared to Fixed Wireless Broadband. A misleading vendor tactic is to quote the peak speed as the user speed. This is like quoting exchange total speed for DSL or total cable bandwidth for Cable users. It has little resemblance to real world performance (see ).
North America refers to Mobile Phone networks as Cellular Networks. However all non-Satellite Mobile Internet are cellular designs, but only CDMA-1 (EVDO related), GSM (GPRS/EDGE), UMTS/WCDMA/3G/FOMA/T-CDMA (HSPDA, HSUPA, HSPA, HSPA+) are Mobile Phone Networks. LTE and Mobile WiMax are Data only, using VOIP for voice. Flash-OFDMA, IPW (derived from CDMA) and iBurst are also Data only networks. In theory also you could have an ERAN based EDGE2 network with no GPRS or GSM Voice, but no-one is likely to deploy it. Voice and SMS pays for the Mobile Phone networks. In the long term any decent speed LTE or Mobile WiMax is likely to be very much more expensive per Gigabyte traffic than fixed Broadband or Fixed Wireless Broadband.
Devices that provide mobile broadband include: PC cards also known as PC data card or Connect cards, USB modems, USB sticks often called "dongles", phones with data modems and portable devices with built-in support for Mobile Broadband (like notebooks, netbooks and Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs)). Notebooks with built-in Mobile Broadband Modules are offered by all leading laptop manufacturers in Europe and Asia including: Asus, Dell, Lenovo (previously IBM), HP, Fujitsu, Toshiba, Micro-Star International and Acer.
A group of telecommunication manufacturers, mobile phone producers, chipset manufacturers and notebook manufacturers have joined forces to push built-in support for Mobile Broadband technology on notebook computers. The players have established a service mark to identify devices that deliver Mobile Broadband.
Some Comparisons between Dialup (narrowband), Mobile (Midband) and true always on Broadband: linking to OECD, FCC and Irish Government Definitions. Explanation as to why Mobile performance is often 1/10th of the Advertised speed, drops connections and may not connect at all.
T-Mobile Universal Mobile Telecommunications System PC Card modem
A mobile phone can be used as a wireless modem
Huawei CDMA2000 Evolution-Data Optimized USB wireless modem model E226
On 11 December 2002, the IEEE Standards Board approved the establishment of IEEE 802.20, the Mobile Broadband Wireless Access (MBWA) Working Group.
The mission of IEEE 802.20 is to develop the specification for an efficient packet based air interface that is optimized for the transport of IP based services. The goal is to enable worldwide deployment of affordable, ubiquitous, always-on and interoperable multi-vendor mobile broadband wireless access networks that meet the needs of business and residential end user markets.
The main barrier to the take up of mobile broadband will be the coverage the mobile phone networks can provide, in many areas customers will not be able to achieve the speeds advertised due to mobile data coverage limitations. In addition, there are also issues with connectivity, network capacity, application quality, and mobile network operators' overall inexperience with data traffic.
Demand from emerging markets fuels a large share of growth in Mobile Broadband over the coming years. Without the need to start from the basis of 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.
The global Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) family of standards - which includes GSM, EDGE, WCDMA, HSPA and LTE – is the most widespread way to deliver mobile broadband. 3GPP standards are serving about 90 percent of the world’s mobile subscribers.
In 2009 3 Ireland (part of Hutchison Whampoa) started an add on roll out of their 3G/HSPA Mobile Phone service Marketed as Broadband and with the contract to supply the NBS. This is widely regarded as a catastrophe for prospective Broadband users see
In October 2008, a steering group known as Digital Britain was set up, with the aim of promoting digital telecommunications in the United Kingdom. The conclusion of the steering group was a recommendation that the government took up, namely to have 100% broadband coverage, with a minimum speed of 2Mbps in the United Kingdom by the year 2012. Mobile "broadband" using 3G is not now expected to be able to ensure 2Mbps broadband coverage to the more remote areas of the UK as coverage is too poor and contention too high. Another suggestion is Ka Satellite for Rural areas, which may be very cheap by the end of 2010 if Eutelsat's KA-SAT is successfully launched. There is also a smaller Ka Sat due in 2010 from Avanti. However Satellite latency is about 790ms.
Types of devices used
smartphone, Mobile phone
USB flash drive, (dongle)
PC Card, ExpressCard
There are competing common carriers broadcasting signal in most nations of the earth. Some of these Cellular networks and the carrier's service plans are:
List of Canadian mobile phone companies
United States providers
Clearwire provides wireless internet but not mobile phone service
Meo, Sapo, ZON as MVNOs using the above main networks as carriers.
Zapp (portuguese branch)
United Kingdom providers
United Kingdom Ofcom accredited impartial comparison service for broadband
au (mobile phone operator)
Virgin Mobile India
Globe Tattoo(Globe Telecom)
Smart Bro(Smart Communications/PLDT)
Sun Broadband Wireless(SBW)(Sun Cellular/Digitel)
Sri Lanka Providers
New Zealand providers
HTC (includes Qtek and Dopod)
Hewlett Packard (HP)
GPRS Core Network
IP Multimedia Subsystem
GAN (UMA) (pre-4G)