The Evolution of Mobile Internet

The Evolution of Mobile Internet

With 4G becoming an increasingly common option for mobile phone users, the average speeds of mobile internet are now reaching a point where services are eclipsing many home broadband connections for performance.

Individuals and businesses can take advantage of a wide range of different 3G and 4G mobile deals, with offers available through companies such as DCL Mobile. When considering the services you can use for mobile internet, it’s worth thinking about how the technology has developed over time.

Mobile internet now relies on a combination of 3G and 4G networks, with the former still being the most common; users can also access the internet on their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices through wireless hotspots at home and when travelling. Speeds for mobile internet are strong enough to support the running of multiple apps, as well as downloads and streaming services, depending on the data limit of a person’s device.

The first mobile internet services were developed in Finland in 1996 through the Nokia 9000 Communicator phone, with similar experiments taking place in Japan through the NTT DoCoMo corporation at about the same time; the latter experiment involved creating the first browser for a mobile connection, with phones still limited by a slow connection that used circuit switching to transmit data picked up using wireless signals.

What we now understand as mobile internet emerged out of gradually increasing broadband line speed expectations, and as part of a transition from a basic 2G data connection towards 3G. Rather than relying on circuit switching to transmit data on a per minute basis, 3G connections use packet switching to produce a speed and a user experience more similar to a home wired connection, where you can pay for a bundle of data. Japan again led the way, along with Korea, in developing faster network speeds, with around 2 Mbps of download speeds possible.

As 3G connections became more commonplace with the growth of smartphones in the mid 2000s, new standards and forms of 2G and 3G connections using mobile device increased – these included more basic GPRS connections on 2G and 3G networks, which was capable of handling around 307 kbps. Faster 3G was gradually enhanced through the use of HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) and HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access), as well as by HSPA+.

However, although mobile internet speeds were increasing during the mid to late 2000s, many users were still limited in the amount of data they could download as part of a mobile connection. With mobile devices developing touchscreens, HD resolutions, and higher quality sound systems, mobile internet primarily became a way to access internet content when away from a home wireless network, whereby connected devices could draw from the same bundled package.

Investment in increased 4G speeds for mobile internet increased from around 2009, with early standards including WiMax, and LTE, the current standard that is used as the backbone for 4G in the UK. LTE, or Long Term Evolution, builds upon the network infrastructure used for transmitting 3G internet signals, but increases its bandwidth to accommodate an average of 20 Mbps to 30 Mbps download speeds. 4G speeds can be much higher, though, with average speeds set to increase as services become more widespread around the UK and elsewhere. Work is also ongoing for 5G connections, which are likely to be the standard possible for commercial use by the 2020s, and will provide superfast speeds.


Jeff Harley blogs about mobile phone technology and history. He recommends checking out DCL Mobile for the latest deals on 4G phones.His other blogging interests include cars and computer networking.

Leave a comment!