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Saturday, July 16, 2011

The End of Mobile Computing as we Know it

The future of mobile computing lies in the hands of the networks that connect us, it relies on wireless networks such as WiFi, 3G, and Bluetooth. Without these networks to keep us connected, mobile computing could not advance as far as it has. The problems that arises, especially in the United States, is that mobile data can cost extraordinary amounts of money, mobile carriers such as AT&T and Verizon are giving users only small amounts of data for large amounts of money, and not every device can be connected at once. Or can they? Even with the largest of carriers ending unlimited data  and prices reaching ever more skyward, there is hope.

The first thing I want to talk about is connectivity. Obviously not every device you own can connect to 3G networks. They must rely on WiFi hotspots which are much less frequent. The wonder of having a smartphone however is that you can share that connection with other devices, usually up to 5 at a time Even carriers that still offer unlimited plans try to charge you almost double to use that data as you please. Why should they though? you are paying for unlimited data are you not? Would this not be like home internet providers charging you to use multiple devices in your own house? This question has arisen in the form of Net Neutrality and has plagued online forums and court rooms for quite some time now. While I strongly believe that you should not have to pay extra and that all data use should be treated equally, I do see where the carriers are coming from and there is a solution to that problem.

Mobile network providers face a very big issue, they must follow set physical laws for wireless communication that allow for only a certain amount of data traffic on a certain amount of frequency. There just is not enough bandwith to go around. The CEO of Cisco has a solution to that problem which uses a new radio technology to theoretically give 100's of times more bandwith using the same frequencies and the distance these signals travel could reach farther than ever before. An example of this bandwith problem in action would be at a large sporting event, thousands of people are all trying to access the internet at one time in a constrained area and they find that loading even the simplest of pages takes an unimaginable amount of time, worse than dial up, maybe it doesn't even load. This is what carriers are experiencing all over the world and is why they are putting in place data caps. If carriers would work with Cisco it is very possible they could reverse this plague that is sweeping the mobile world and in return bring faster speeds, lower costs, and unlimited data back.

The United States has one of the worst internet infrastructures of the developed world. Even though the internet was invented here we experience some of the slowest and most expensive data plans anywhere. People in Europe or Japan would laugh at us as there cheapest data packages are close to our most expensive ones. Our country is to focused on greed and it is hurting our global dominance. If we could only step away from the need for more money and look towards the future and what we can do to make it better for everyone rather than ourselves.

Back to our problem with connectivity.  Getting all of our devices is a large issue and with carriers charging extra for wireless tethering it isn't getting easier. Luckily for most of us there are applications out there developed by hackers that allow us smartphone owners to root our phones (gain access to everything) and allow us to use wireless tethering for free using the unlimited data plan that we bought. An example of this would be the Wireless Tehtering application for Android which can be found HERE  and allows users who have Rooted their phones to create a hotspot and connect other devices via wifi. Depending on your phone you will create either a wireless hotspot like what you experience at your house and coffee shops or an ad-hoc network which is only compatible with certain devices. Note that speeds will not be the best but it is better than nothing, also your phones battery will die rather quickly. Carriers are trying to keep us from using this method however with Verizon blocking access to such apps from being downloaded. Luckily for Android users is that they can side load apps without using the market. Also be warned that if you are caught using to much data Verizon can throttle your data speeds to make them very slow or charge you extra by adding a plan for the wireless tethering option.

The future as it stands now does not seem rather pleasant with carriers charging increasingly insane amounts of money for ever smaller amounts of data. It is up to people like you to urge carriers to use new technologies and to make our government step in and regulate the providing of internet to make prices fall, speeds rise, and connectivity coverage expand.

What do you think about carriers ending unlimited data and charging so much? Leave your comments down below and as always have a great day.


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