3G WWAN for mobile workers

What will I do for Internet if/when I’m bouncing between cities for the foreseeable future? A guy like me always thinks (wireless) network first. Previously I used Nextel iDEN tethering to my laptop, grandfathered on a nice old corporate plan from when Nextel wanted to promote their “always on” packet network. This Nextel iDEN packet modem via phone connection was at about 10 kbps speeds–worse than the average 30-40 kbps modem connection but not much worse considering the wide Nextel coverage area.

Now with Sprint and the Blackberry 8703e EVDO 3G, I get about 0.5-1 Mbps depending on the time of day. I can tell more people are using mobile data here as the networks in the Midwest don’t get as noticeable time-dependent utilization behavior–like cable modems being slow during the evening in the early 2000s. Despite the tear I shed for leaving Nextel, the (consumer) world is finally going mobile data. Just about a decade later than we hoped for.

A big part of the problem is the lack of mobile CPU power. A desktop more than a few years old struggles with Web 2.0 pages, particularly YouTube and Flash heavy sites. So how can we expect a mobile device to cope and keep a working-day’s battery? The half-hearted .mobi efforts are half-measures. Why not use a little dynamic browser sensing to have three tiers of content presentation for mobile/desktop web:

  1. essentials: for mobile 2G Java browsing. 2-3 small images max, simple table, list. That’s it.
  2. full mobile: For Blackberry/Opera class browsers on 3G. 3-4 small images, pretty table, list, forms. HTML+CSS+images < 150kB ~ 6 seconds render time.
  3. full desktop: here you can have your Web 2.0 stuff.

What I see instead is only (1) or (3).
(1) is so crippled as to be unusable as they don’t bother to allow text input usually. (3) fails to render properly on the mobile browser, and is somewhat miserable on dialup.

It really isn’t that hard to fix the internet. High end people use their phone to browse the web–it’s going to be a matter of follow the money. When quarterly results show N% mobile sales, that will be the mobile Internet catalyst.

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