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?

  • - liz.cho liz.cho Nov 1, 2015 In international schools especially, the students attending private schools definitely have easy access to 3G or 4G. To open this up so that kids can freely use this in their learning teaches them to do more than just be socially connected with their friends. We talk bout Digital Natives quite a bit these days, and to be a "native" anywhere means that you need to understand the responsibilities of belonging to that "nation". We often think students should just know how to be responsible with their digital devices, and their virtual presence, but often the teaching part of HOW to truly be a responsible "citizen" gets overlooked. Allowing students to use them within the classrooms opens up that teaching process, teachers included, and kids should certainly be empowered to use this within their learning context.
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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • - liz.cho liz.cho Nov 1, 2015 In many LEDCs (Less Economically Developed Countries), the cellular network made such a huge difference in the way people connected when there were natural disasters or civil conflicts. When loved ones were separated, even a single cell phone made all the difference within a village and how they located missing persons. These networks inspired a whole new way for people to connect, the Arab Springs being one of the recent examples of a social movement.
  • http://www.google.com.hk/loon/ - nathan.pither nathan.pither Nov 8, 2015

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

  • - liz.cho liz.cho Nov 1, 2015 This opens up limitless possibilities in teaching COMPASSION.
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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