Mobile or cellular broadband covers a range of technologies employed to provide high-speed connections to end-user devices that are typically used on the move (e.g., smart phones, iPads, etc.).
Through the recent past, there have been two competing approaches to delivering mobile broadband service: Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). GSM dominates the market outside the US. Domestic CDMA carriers include Verizon and Sprint and carriers using their networks (e.g., Virgin, Boost). Our GSM carriers include AT&T and T-Mobile and carriers using their networks. There are also several smaller cellular companies on both platforms.
Both of these technologies continue to evolve into higher speeds. An example in the GSM world is HSPA (High Speed Packet Access). In the CDMA world, an example is EVDO (Evolution, Data Only or Evolution, Data Optimized). Both continue to develop faster networks. These faster networks are often referred to as 3G or the most recent development, 4G, which include LTE (Long Term Evolution) and WiMAX (both under the umbrella of Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM—a technique for transmitting large amounts of digital data over a radio wave). The “G” simply stands for the “generation” of these broadband cellular networks. 3G speeds range upward to approximately 1.5 Mbps. 4G speeds range upward to 12 Mbps. However, even within the 3G and 4G categories, there are several “revisions” of the core technology with speeds and coverage constantly improving.