3G broadband: students outside the house

Summary:Behind the scenes, we ZDNet bloggers discuss many-a-topic to keep our minds rolling; sharing ideas, links and stories - you get the idea. A post written the other day on the Between the Lines blog got me thinking about mobile and home broadband, with ties to my post earlier in the week.

Behind the scenes, we ZDNet bloggers discuss many-a-topic to keep our minds rolling; sharing ideas, links and stories - you get the idea. A post written the other day on the Between the Lines blog got me thinking about mobile and home broadband, with ties to my post earlier in the week.

There are a few points to start off with, which are important to point out, and I think captures the entire article in an instant.

Mobile broadband is:

  • often more expensive, and can be patchy in areas;
  • when in a 3G area, speeds vary on mobile network signal;
  • not affected by network contention, or "users on the line".

However home broadband is:

  • usually less expensive overall and faster than 3G broadband;
  • speeds decrease depending on length from house to the exchange;
  • configuration front and back-end can screw up (easily);
  • affected highly by network contention, or "users on the line".

I took a look at the speeds provided by both home and mobile broadband, using my mobile phone and my computer. To be fair, these can be taken "as is" because it'll change depending on where you are, and mostly with what you're doing. Speeds can even change depending on which device you use; so much for an open standard.

You can see how much home broadband speeds change throughout the day, whereas mobile broadband stays at a relatively constant level. 3G access isn't as widely spread throughout certain areas of the US yet, but you can guarantee it'll be an integral part of every major city's infrastructure.

The "9/11 effect" can cripple those using mobile broadband; a theory I wrote about in an essay last year. Too many people using the same network can cripple it; an unintentional denial-of-service attack. This may well be possible on home broadband if network contention is high enough, but if disaster strikes, you can almost bet your phone signal will cut out.

Students should take note of mobile broadband, in terms of 3G and accessing the high speed data that your mobile/cell phone can provide. Because using 3G on your mobile can incur massive costs, it's worth checking with your provider to make sure you have a plan capable of downloading, browsing, surfing and whatnot first.

For email, 3G is perfect and will stand you in good step. However, wireless will always top it for me, and it's no major replacement for home broadband... even though speeds fluctuate like Microsoft's stock price.

Topics: Mobility, Broadband, Hardware, Networking, Telcos, Wi-Fi

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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