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

  • Throughout the world, it's clear many schools and learning opportunities are going to be delivered via mobile broadband as the cost to connect individual residences is too high in many areas. Here in the US, mobile broadband is key for closing the "homework gap" in order to enable all students the opportunity to complete classwork and extend learning beyond the classroom. Mobile broadband is going to be the key way for districts to provide that expanded coverage to students participating in 1:1 programs outside of school. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Apr 29, 2016
  • - shafika.isaacs shafika.isaacs May 1, 2016In an African context mobile broadband provides greater prospects for access to online learning resources

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

  • - shafika.isaacs shafika.isaacs May 1, 2016how mobile broadband opens up the potential for universal access to quality learning and teaching
  • add your response here

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

  • The impact is extending learning far beyond the classroom walls by providing students the ability to continue classwork no matter where they are. Worldwide it opens up pathways for students no matter where they are, from remote rural areas, to refugees, to migrant children to find continuity in learning as well as providing access to a community no matter where the child is. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Apr 29, 2016
  • - shafika.isaacs shafika.isaacs May 1, 2016I think mobile broadband offers a crucial opportunity for greater educational reach for under-served communities

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

  • We are prepared to roll out the first phase of District purchased mobile units and 3G a month connectivity for 2000 Title 1 families whose children participate in the District funded 1:1 program. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Apr 29, 2016

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