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 7, 2012

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

  • - greg.johll greg.johll May 6, 2016 Recent studies show a flattening/dip in broadband adoption via fixed line and an increase in mobile broadband adoption. Wisconsin has a mixed bag when it comes to coverage throughout the state with some rural areas having little to no reliable coverage while more urban areas have multiple options for mobile broadband. We need better coverage throughout the state.
  • It is important to consider mobile access when developing online content so that the learner experience is optimized. Previously developed content may need to be revised to do this. The beauty of mobile broadband is that people have more opportunities to engage with Extension; waiting in a doctor's office, for example. The only constraint for many people is their data plan. I avoid streaming videos on my cell phone (unless on wifi) because it eats up data...very fast...- oneill oneill May 22, 2016

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

  • - greg.johll greg.johll May 6, 2016 Again, your description is applicable to traditional campuses, but Cooperative Extension typically works throughout an entire state.
  • Include some of the mobile broadcast platforms where people can do broadcasting for themselves (e.g., Periscope) and provide training on them - oneill oneill May 22, 2016

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • - greg.johll greg.johll May 6, 2016 As coverage and usage increases I see a shift of our programming delivery models that will need to adjust to take advantage of the ubiquity of mobile broadband in reaching our students.
  • Learners will have expanded outreach to Extension content whenever and wherever they are if content is engaging and mobile friendly.- oneill oneill May 22, 2016
  • Program content will have to be repackaged to take advantage of mobile platforms.

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

  • I have dabbled with Periscope and attended a number of "scopes" done by others. The MFLN Personal Finance team will be doing some video broadcasting this summer.- oneill oneill May 22, 2016
  • Fort Valley State University has used a mobile computer lab to provide technology education to rural committed. We used to use a satellite but switched over to mobile hotspots that provide us much better coverage at a cheaper price. We have used mobile broadband to assist with Medicare open enrollment, job fairs, etc. - wolforkt wolforkt Jun 1, 2016

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