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04 April 20120 Comments by Jon M

Does the mobile phone industry in the UK need a top-down shakeup?: Part 4

Thanks for stopping by for the final part in our series Does the mobile phone industry in the UK need a top-down shakeup. Please go back and check out the other posts if you haven’t read them then – there’s some great stuff to learn that can even save you money. In today’s edition, we’re looking at mobile data transmission and getting broadband internet on your phone.

If you enjoy this, please also take a look at the articles in the series:

Is unlimited data really unlimited?

As mobile phone technology has progressed in the last ten years, so have the networks, and services that we use on our handsets. In the last five years the biggest boom has been with using data services such as mobile internet. Some smartphones we now use are more powerful than PCs and they fit in your pocket.

The first fully-fledge internet phones provided a rather unpleasant experience – most had monochrome screens and expensive but slow WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) data. If you were online for 5 minutes you were charged for 5 minutes and 5 minutes was far from cheap. Nowadays, with modern handsets, you can access the internet and see exactly the same pages and layout as you would see on your desktop PC or laptop.

All major mobile networks have some sort of data bundle add-on; some are more generous than others. Some networks say that their data is unlimited with no cap, or fair use policy. This is not always true but with some networks it really is unlimited. However, some networks don’t allow you to stream or tether to a laptop or internet tablet. You can only use it for normal internet on the phone.

Other networks say their data is unlimited but, according to their fair use policy, if they deem you’ve been abusing their unlimited data they will either slow the connection or switch it off completely. Some Android phones have a portable wifi hotspot feature, so you can tether devices such as iPads or laptops. It’s a good idea to always know what exactly is included and allowed with your particular package on your mobile network.

4G LTE anybody? Just improving the 3G network would be a start

Sometime this year will be the end of the analogue TV signal as the country goes digital. Some regions have already completed the digital switchove. When the country has fully gone digital, the government will sell off the analogue spectrum, paving the way for 4G LTE.

4G is going to be very fast; even faster than some fibre optic home broadband connections. It is currently being trialled by mobile network operator O2 in London. It will need new kit, such as new handsets etc. It’s supposed to be rolled out later this year. However, some people still can’t receive 3G; so wouldn’t it be better to improve the 3G infrastructure?

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