Broadband Internet & Roaming ( Vol I. )
As Broadband Internet Access are considered to be connections to the World Wide Web, which in relation to older types of connections, have a high rate of data put through. Such older, relatively narrow banded connections are for example analog Dial Up connections with a maximum rate of 56kbps, as well as digital ISDN Dial-Up connections with a rate of up to 128kbps. Die exact limit above which a data connection is considered to be broadband is in fact not exactly defined, not scientifically nor legally, but as a matter of fact, every connection with a data rate of more than 2048kbps is commonly considered to be broadband. This rate corresponds with the primary ISDN-Multiplex-Rate. In daily live, thus easier to understand for the average user, this means connections speeds beyond 128kbps for up- and/or -downloads, in combination with the opportunity to remain permanently connected. ( always on ) These are the commonly valid criteria to speak about a broadband data connection.
As mentioned, we are dealing with definition, which are based primarily upon mutual understanding than upon clear and binding guidelines. In almost every country, these Terms are partly, slightly, sometimes even entirely differently defined. These criteria can generally be applied to the terminology used throughout the world of mobile Internet access. Except perhaps, that for a better understanding there exist a few additional, more specific terms that apply to mobile data only.
For example is a GPRS-Connection with up to 56kbps considered by everybody to be narrowband, while there are contradictory opinions about EDGE, an accelerated ( enhanced ) form of GPRS. While users tend to call EDGE-Connections slow and thus narrowband, exactly like ISDN, the providers, especially those who do not make use of a faster standard, would advertise EDGE as broadband as well, last but not least because it's always on. One example that shows this controversy was Apples iPhone, which was considered to have fast internet access capability only after the implementation of the 3G/UMTS Standard while users were very unhappy with EDGE-Only.
The Various Standards
Now that we have successfully clarified the general terms of broadband internet access in general and of mobile broadband internet access specifically, let's get down to the this report's topic, the mobile broadband internet access. To avoid bothering you with too much outdated information, we shall not go into details about CSD-Technology with its ancient 9600bps of Pre-GPRS-Times. Most of our readers were never users of that technology anyway and those who were have been using that crooked technology only in case for mere emergencies and certainly with a lot of cursing and frustrated moaning. Let's thus begin with the standards still in use that are based almost exclusively upon the GSM-Technology.
General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is a service for data transfer that is used in GSM-Networks. When GPRS is activated, a permanent connection to the server ( always on ) exists only virtually. Only during real data transfers will the radio space really occupied. Else the frequencies are kept free to be used by other users. Thus other than with CSD-Connections there is no need for permanently reserved radio channel for on single user. GPRS charges do thus mainly depend on data usage, other than on connection time. Further, other than CSD-Services, GPRS is a package service. That means that data are permanently converted into packages, transmitted as such and rebuilt at the receiving end.
GPRS-Technology allows while bundling of all eight GSM-Time-Slots of a channel, theoretically a data put through of 171.2kbps. During practical operations, the number of available time slots within one frame is limited by the capability of the mobile station ( multi slot capability ) Actual devices have multi slot class 12 with a maximum of 4 time slots for each, downlink and uplink, but with an over all maximum of 5 simultaneous time slots. This allows for a data rate of up to 53.6kbps, depending on the coding scheme, thus the number of time slots used as well as the noise level and the signal strength. This matches about the speed of a common V.90 dial-up modem.
Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution or short EDGE, describes a technique to increase the data transmission rate in GSM networks by introducing an additional modulation technique. With EDGE, GPRS data services become E-GPRS, Enhanced GPRS and will be extended to HSCSD, ECSD. EDGE is a development of GSM technology is that can be integrated into the existing mobile networks with only moderate efforts and still without interfering with older devices. In essence, it is necessary to update the software of the GSM base station and replace only individual components if necessary. The increase of the data transfer rate that comes with EDGE is achieved by a shift towards a more efficient modulation technique. Instead of the usual GSM standard method, the Gaussian minimum shift keying method (GMSK); the so-called 8-PSK methods is applied.
Therefore with EDGE a data transfer rate of up to 59,2 Kbit / s per time slot can be achieved. While using eight time slots, even up to 473 Kbit/s can be achieved. Compared, the GPRS data service allows only 171.2kbps at max. The switch to the enhanced modulation process occurs selectively only on those channels that are used by EDGE-Enabled devices. Thus a simultaneous use of GSM / GPRS and EDGE devices in the same cell is possible free of interferences. The current commercially available devices are those of EDGE class 10. This means that these devices have up to four downlink slots and two uplink slots. This results in a possible data transfer rate of 220 Kbit/s in download and 110 Kbit/s upstream.
Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, better known by the acronym UMTS stands for third generation mobile phone standard, also known as 3G, with the much higher data rates, i.e. up to 7.2 Mbps using HSDPA and up to 384 Kbit/s without HSDPA than with the second-generation mobile phone standard, also known as 2G. The ITU had UMTS selected for IMT-2000 and it is therefore one of the standards for 3rd generation mobile communications. Originally, the ETSI, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, had UMTS standardized, today the 3GPP, 3rd Generation Partnership Project maintains it further. The standard is constantly being expanded. HSDPA for example, increased the maximum data rate reception, thus the downlink rate. For the transmitting-data-rate or uplink, HSUPA is available with a similar technique.
High-Speed Downlink Packet Access, HSDPA is 3.5G, 3G + or called UMTS Broadband, a data transmission method of the UMTS mobile standard was defined by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project. The procedure allows for DSL-Like technology. The maximum data rate is limited by the so-called category of the recipient. Typical is 3.6 Mbit/s for category 6 followed by the 7.2 Mbit/s category. For category 14 a maximum of 13.98 Mbit/s is possible, but in practice is not very likely to be achieved, since it would require a code rate R of almost "One".
Main features of HSDPA are fast and flexible data load balancing, and adjustment to the channel quality with "Adaptive Modulation and Coding", in short AMC. The user data are transmitted at intervals called "Transmission Time Interval" TTI in short. Three UMTS-time slots on the so-called HS-DSCH," High Speed Downlink Shared Channel ". A TTI has a length of 2 ms. It can be applied at one time up to 15 channels. A terminal in turn sends every 2ms, information about the channel quality, "Channel Quality Indicator, CQI in short. Based upon the received CQI values of different devices and taking into account other data such as buffer fill level, priorities etc., will the UMTS base station decide as to which handsets are operated parallely with how many channels.
In addition, the CQI information is used for channel coding, the modulation method, as well as Node-B to select output power. HSDPA modems are available as USB sticks, data cards, and mobile phones 3.6 and 7.2 Mbps support. The newest products also support HSUPA for faster uploading and 1.45 Mbps. HSDPA is built into many current mobile phones that can be used as an HSDPA modem. In contrast to other UMTS processes, with HSDPA data transmission there is no soft handover. Each terminal receives the HSDPA channels at any time only by a single base station. A change of cells is performed using the HSDPA serving cell change procedure, which is equivalent to a handover, but with a short break. Compared to UMTS, with HSDPA's lower round-trip times many interactive applications become available.
High-Speed Uplink Packet Access, short HSUPA, is a transmission method of the UMTS mobile standard, which allows higher uplink data transmission rates and the round-trip times, often referred to as ping, are significantly shorter. With up to 5.8 Mbps can be achieved. HSUPA is part of Release 6 of UMTS, its specifications in the 3GPP standards body has not yet been completed.
Stands for "Long Term Evolution" Compared with the alternative technology "WiMAX", LTE is a low-cost evolutionary migration path for GSM operators, leading from UMTS via HSDPA and HSUPA to finally LTE. Unlike UMTS, LTE supports various bandwidths, 1.4, 3, 5, 10, 15 and 20 MHz and can thus be flexibly applied in a variety of future spectra. OFDM thereby allows for an easy scalability of bandwidth by allowing for a larger number of sub carriers. At 20 MHz, according to standard meets the use of 1200 sub-carriers, allow for peak download rates of 300 Mbps and peak upload rates of 75 Mbps, with latencies of less than 5 ms and thus promise a long-term competitiveness of UMTS systems. For the uplink, with SC-FDMA (OFDMA one DFT-OFDMA)-there is used a similar access procedure, which by a low peak-to-average ratio (PAR) distinguished and thus reduces the power consumption of mobile phones. Other common names are the E-UTRAN, Evolved UTRAN, High Speed OFDM Packet Access "short HSOPA, Super 3G and 3.9G.
A predecessor to the LTE concept was introduced by Nortel Networks under the name High Speed OFDM Packet Access, shortly HSOPA. LTE uses Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing techniques (OFDM) and Multiple-Input Multiple-Output antenna technology (MIMO). That should allow mobile operators to offer inexpensive high-rate data services, thus making the mobile Internet to the mass market. The low latency of LTE improves the transmission of voice services such as Voice over IP, VoIP and video telephony briefly over the Internet Protocol and the use of time-critical applications such as online games. In the first version of LTE, Release 8, five classes of terminals with different data rates are available. Although the highest class with 4x4 MIMO and 64-QAM modulations, the expected data rates of 300Mbps in the downlink and 75Mbps in the uplink are met, the first terminals have probably much lower data rates available with 2x2 MIMO on the downlink and without the 64 QAM working in the uplink. All terminals must support a bandwidth of 20 MHz.
Stands for Wireless Local Area Network, is one way to realize the mobile Internet to be wireless, also known as Wi-Fi. Via so-called hot spots it's possible to join the world wide web with a laptop or a cell phone. In most hotels, train stations, airports, etc., paid or free hotspots are nowadays available.
Wireless Metropolitan Area Network WiMAX is a discussed mobile alternative to DSL and UMTS connections. The supply radius of a base station in urban Environment is usually 2 to 3 kilometers. As with UMTS it is necessary for all users involved, to share the available Bandwidth.
Satellite Internet access is considered to be another way to realize mobile internet. This option is used, for example, by journalists, academics, aid agencies, etc. in corresponding remote areas. The costs are high and the speed is relatively slow. 2-way satellite links are independent of geographical features or other infrastructure available nearly everywhere in the earth's surface and are particularly suitable for remote areas and ships. The problem with satellite access are still the often significantly higher costs, the high latency and, if the channel is not carried on the satellite, the dependence on a further means of connection. In case of a system of geostationary satellites, there are typical delays of 500-700 ms, which interferes with real-time applications and is considered sensitive by some servers as a reason to abort the connection.
The mobile internet is closely linked to progress in the development of mobile technologies. Already since the 90s, it is possible for consumers to access the internet via the GSM network, albeit only as CSD data connections, and with correspondingly lower speed. The introduction of GSM enhancements HSCSD, GPRS and EDGE witnessed a considerable increase in speed. Other important steps in development were the introduction of UMTS in 2002 and, based on it, HSDPA and HSUPA in 2006. Due to the expansion with HSDPA, the end users can download with a maximum speed of 7.2 Mbps and upload with up to 1.45 Mbps.This opened up a new clientele. Photographers, journalists, households in remote areas outside wired broadband Internet access could thus surf the Internet with a comparable speed. Although the major mobile providers consistently extended their networks in recent years towards UMTS and HSDPA, the mobile Internet in some places has not nearly as many users as the wired Internet has. In some countries, however, the growth in broadband access is now higher, while access via cable television or telephone are stagnating. In 2007 nearly one quarter of all households with Internet access almost exclusively used mobile broadband.
The EU believed that the roaming costs for mobile internet was too high, and set a price of under €1.18 per megabyte while roaming in the EU as a guideline, in July 2008. Due to the increasing cost pressures in the telecommunications market and the enforced prices for mobile services, providers and network operators are forced to seek new approaches to economic and efficient supply of telecommunications services and operation of telecommunications networks. So far, traditional telephony providers have dominated the telecommunications market. But it is an increasing convergence of services and networks observed. Thus classic portal vendors such as Google, Yahoo, MSN or even cable operators are pushing into this market. The increasing provision of telephone services using IP telephony, in short, VoIP is just one example. As part of this convergence, retail sales values of the contribution of network deployment from the expense of services decreases. Incumbent operators may be forced to seek cost savings and re-think their business models.
Applications & Potential
As in recent years in the home area via DSL and/or ADSL, mobile phones, via UMTS, HSDPA, WLAN and future technology support, are developing more and more into platforms for multimedia consumption and high-end communications. Besides the now well-established functions in the fields of music, videos and photos, as well as conventional office applications like word processing, spreadsheets and presentations, are just now developing at a rapid pace into almost fully satisfying useful device applications. A look at the usage statistics, however, shows something strange. While the percentage of broadband-capable mobile phones (smartphones, PDA phones, etc.) in the total mobile market in Europe is rising strongly, the usage of exactly those services that would benefit the most from the increased bandwidth and functions, remain behind. The main revenues for European mobile communications providers remain generated through second generation mobile telephony services like SMS and MMS. There exist several reasons for this. One example is that many customers purchase such sophisticated mobile phones only for the reason of showing off as well as because they don't have to pay a price which is visibly connected to the value of the device and or if it is connected, the difference of the price tag is ridiculously small.
Then, the fact remains that the use of the services, not only in part is extremely complicated, but also too much tailored to the respective providers interests, rather than the users, real interests, sometimes with impossible terms and exclusivity, respectively Provider bonds. There are many users who find the iPhone, or similar devices great achievements, but will buy them only then, when they would be allowed to purchase the device of their choice without binding contracts and no SIM-Locks. Later in this report we shall have a more detailed look into this. Free choice of network, especially when traveling abroad is an important part of it. Uneven network standards, inadequate coverage, high prices, artificially limitation of advertised services, particularly the reached velocities in real life, the ineffective and non-transparent tariff structures, as well as the complexity of the technical vocabulary used, do the rest to scare customers off. Yet other reasons for the unfulfilled expectations of the use of mobile broadband applications may consist in the fact that the technologies are developed, bypassing the overall interests of the users. Concepts and application design are in the center of criticism here. There are studies, which are addressing not only the services and with what intensity they are actually used, but as well the fundamental interests with their impact on the purchasing habits.
How open-minded are users towards new features and services? Which services are recognized? What is more important to the users, the simplicity of the functions and services or the possibility of individual adaptation to their personal needs? What are all the real demands of the various types of users towards their mobile communication devices? This question gains priority in terms of a good and appropriate design of mobile devices and applications. These problems become overwhelming when trying to integrate a large number of features into a small device with limited capacities as far as displays, memory and input options are are concerned. Like this, although they offers many features of which a vast minority is fully mastered.
A possible alternative would be to structure the devices and their operating systems following the principles of personal computers, so that they would allow for a user-friendly and standardized way to install and configure the desired applications and functions upon their users whishes and/or desire. We assume, that a user with need and/or demand for high-tech "Leading Edge" applications, is capable to deal with such applications and devices and if this is not so, like with any other technology, must find out how to deal with them. With this in mind, this might be the reasons for the vague and inconsistent direction in which the mobile broadband technology is moving at present. Are we going to have to deal with one or few devices with as many but inferior functions as possible, or are we heading towards self configuring devices as parts (pods) inside huge networks. It is not yet clear which direction of development will eventually prevail. Even among users who eventually know about the latest features, we are seeing a mixed picture. The utilization of each function differs widely:
While the use of internet and email for both, GSM and 3G users, is still most moderate, are most sparsely used location based services like music downloads and office applications even then, if those features are already available (both 5 % or less), the users of 3G on the other hand use such services at a still low but considerably higher rate of 15-31% depending on which service war are looking at. This may be a hint, that these features, in addition to the entirely 3G-specific mobile television, have the greatest potential to establish itself as a 'unique selling points' of mobile telephony of the third generation. The most striking differences in expectations and perceptions of users is not so much in the utilization of the offered functions, but also in their general opinion about what a cellular phone should do for them. Three groups of users can be identified:
1. Users who want to a variety of features, but without having to invest much
effort in trying to control and con figure those features. (28% of respondents)
2. Users who want above all ease of use, without special
preference for further specialization or to be in control (44% of respondents).
3. Users who appreciate the diverse features as well as the ability
to monitor and control their operation and con figurations (28% of respondents).
The distribution of the above groups on GSM vs.. 3G user gives a revealing picture: The need for versatility paired with control (3) is found throughout the majority of 3G users (51%), while the demand for versatility, with no special desire for checks and balances (1) relatively evenly distributed among the two groups (each 28%) and the need for simplicity (2) which most GSM users have articulated (48%). The simplicity of operation may facilitate the transition to the new technology now, but this alone is not sufficient. At least, issues of usability do not seem to play the often assumed lead role in the slow adoption of mobile broadband technologies: At first there is the majority of users that claims to be sufficiently familiar with the functionality of their devices. Second, all users value the perceived benefits of a function higher over the ease of its use, which is evidenced thirdly, from the observation that many respondents indicate as a reason for not switching to the third generation mobile telephony, that they themselves do not have any use or need the offered features.
That the functions, that are available, are accepted only reluctantly even by 3G users, can be explained in the context of other studies showing that, even if the opportunities offered by new technologies often provide a motive for the acquisition of an appropriate device, the actual usage of that devices slowly moved into new directions. Even heavily "armed" mobile phones with multiple functions are used in the first place only as mobile phones. Nevertheless, a clear majority of 3G users and more than one third of all respondents as a whole, articulate the wish to investigate and test out the new technologies. In their higher affinity for technology, so their propensity to try out new technologies soon after their introduction, 3G users are regarded as the 'vanguard', which explores the functional spectrum of the third generation mobile telephony and opens up new uses over time. This differentiated picture of different interests, knowledge and expectations of use, which, moreover, by the practice of using your own settings may differ, is suggesting that the definition and enforcement of a technological design and its usage pattern is not predictable and can thus not really be planned ahead.
As could be identified in a study, there is no group that is perfectly adapted to the concept of information appliances (in its combination of simplicity and specialization, and abandonment of control options), and especially since the implied, monolithic image of the user as a technically generally disinterested consumer was not confirmed, the following conclusion seems to be justified: The best chances of success are those design concepts that allow the user on one hand the freedom to adapt and refine the functions where they want it, and on the other hand allow easy where it is needed.
Using a cell phone or a modem as mobile Internet connection can be a nerve racking task. Launch2net performs the entire configuration automatically. To perform like this, Launch2net contains already all connection settings of basically every provider worldwide, so that users can be online in over over 150 countries around the world within seconds. A detailed statistic informs users about time and data consumption. A contextual menu icon allows for speedy connection and disconnection without opening the application itself.
Devices For Mobile Internet Access
We are basically dealing with 2 ways to join the mobile Internet, by means of:
a) with and directly on your mobile phone
b) with a laptop or a desktop computer using a separate modem or a mobile phone as a modem
Most mobile phones used today are tied to a provider, they have a so called "SIM-Lock" and can therefore only be used in the network of that specific operator with which the contract was signed. Respectively, from which the equipment was purchased. Lease terms are usually 12 to 24 months. Major drawbacks for users occur only then, when they either get into disagreements with the network operator and/or if a user regularly resides abroad and connects to the Internet abroad under roaming conditions.
So it pays of to recalculate what the roaming charges for data traffic in the respective countries are. Depending on that calculation it is in most cases advisable to buy device without a SIM lock in order to be able to use prepaid mobile internet access in the visited countries. Although prepaid offers made by the providers are more expensive than the tariffs for contract customers, they are in most cases significantly cheaper than the roaming fees for contract customers abroad. Furthermore, there are now reasonably priced flat rates for prepaid mobile Internet customers in many countries. The same applies in principle also for those users who either use their phones via USB and/or Bluetooth as a modem, respectively, for those users who purchase for their Internet connection a dedicated data modem.
Again, there are several possibilities. As previously mentioned, one can use a mobile phone as a modem. The connection to the computer will be established either via a USB cables that are often expensive, above all not included with the purchase of the phone and often quite unreliable, or via Bluetooth.
The variant of using a mobile phone via bluetooth as a modem has the great advantage that the phone, which is at the same time modem and antenna, may be positioned at the best possible location near the workstation, while the USB solution, that has already been mentioned, along with its subjective handicaps also has the known disadvantage of wired connections.
The variant of using a dedicated modem can as well be realized in different ways. On one hand the modem can, be it a PC- or an Express-Card, be directly slid into the computer
if it has a corresponding interface. Or the card can be pushed into a LAN or WLAN router, that would allow for a simultaneous use of the connection by several users.
It remains to be mentioned is the option via the increasingly popular use of USB modems to connect laptops to the internet. Usually this happens in form of USB-Sticks. The devices are connected to a computers USB-Port either by a cable or through direct plugging the USB-Stick into the an appropriate USB-Port.
There exist now a variety of combinations of all the described options, although the basic principles of connectivity via GSM-Networks remains. Further there is no impact of the devices used as far as the costs are concerned.
The purchasing costs for modems vary greatly, however, bearing in mind, that the most attractive price offers for modems, usually have the handicap of a SIM-Lock. The device can then only be used in the appropriate providers network. That often means to buy a separate modem for each country that one user must visit.
Again, it is worthwhile to calculate carefully which option really is advantageous. The outcome depends on a variety of factors, such as the number of visited countries, the specific prepaid offers, the additional costs for a non-locked device, and so on.
One way to significantly reduce costs would be to unlock of SIM-Locked modems and cellphones. In most cases this is officially possible for a relatively high fee, otherwise the costs are between €20 and €50 at mobile phone shops. Finding a good and reliable shop is not always easy but in fact always possible.
A major possible handicap would be if you had to manually set the settings for Internet access for each provider in each country separately. Most fortunately this is not the case. There is a program that contains all the settings for all providers worldwide and that is able to recognize the SIM-Cards as well as its suppliers and therefore is able to automatically establish your mobile broadband connection.
Another very useful benefit in this context would be the comprehensive statistics on cost, connection quality and speed, that the application, along with many other settings and information is able to provide.
Manufacturer and distributor of this valuable application is nota bene the same enterprise that provides the appropriate software for large network operators like Vodafone
The described software you shall find here: Launch2net
For the iPhone, we recommend the use of this software that is available online and that does not only unlock SIM-Lock but simultaneously opens the device for many additional apps and functions (Jailbreak)
A proven program of this kind can be found here: iPhone Unlock Software
Mobiles Breitband Data
Settings Modem Bluetooth Cell Phone
Data Internet Roaming Network Provider Net Anbieter