Mobile Broadband in Education
As the world becomes increasingly mobile, so does the need for educators to transcend the physical limitations of a classroom. With the evolution of technology, mobility, and the Internet, educators have had to evolve their teaching methodologies to channel the attention of students toward learning. Curriculum, and the tools to support it, must be interactive, flexible and dynamic.
Educators and students alike have a need for high-speed connectivity anytime, anywhere. Having access to mobile broadband enables multi-media e-learning, long-distance teaching and remote classroom collaboration. A proportionate number of colleges and universities in the US offer distance learning education; thus they have a need for cutting-edge technology including mobile broadband.
Some educational institutions have invested large funds to create on-campus Wi-Fi networks. While effective within the reach of the hot spot, administrators, teachers, and students lose connectivity once they leave the campus. Unlike Wi-Fi, mobile broadband connects via a cellular network, which means a user has the ability to access the Internet anywhere a cell phone call can be made.
Administrators around the world proclaim the benefits of mobile broadband in education. Mobile broadband allows students who are living in rural, remote or under-served areas to have access to the Internet and even without a proper school building, they can still get an equal chance to receive education via distance learning.
What is Mobile Broadband?
Mobile broadband is wireless high-speed internet access using a cellular network. Unlike a wired or Wi-Fi network, the cellular data network is pervasive, allowing users to access the Internet, email, and other online applications anywhere they can make a cell phone call. Mobile broadband is Internet access on the go.
There are several types of network standards that mobile broadband runs on, including the global GSM standard HSPA (high speed packet access) network that – AT&T was the first to deploy in the United States 3G speeds have the theoretically capacity to reach up to 42 megabits per second downlink and 5.76 megabits per second uplink.
Types of Mobile Broadband Access
Devices that provide 3G mobile broadband access include cell phones and Laptop cards (via USB, Express or PCMIA slot of the PC). A decade ago, aftermarket, external PCMCIA-based cards were the initial enablers for Wi-Fi, and then advances made toward a single chipset drove manufactures to deliver laptops with integrated Wi-Fi technology. The same evolution is now being repeated with 3G mobile broadband. Notebook manufactures, like Lenovo, are building the 3G chipsets into the notebook, along side Wi-Fi technology, thus providing an even greater ability for users to have anywhere instant access that extends far beyond the hotspot.
The demand for notebooks and Netbooks embedded with wireless 3G is quickly rising and now following a similar adoption path that Wi-Fi did once the embedded Centrino chipset by Intel started replacing external Wi-Fi laptop cards circa 2004. In fact, analyst Frost & Sullivan predict that within 3-5 years nearly all notebooks (including Netbooks) will contain wireless broadband-ready devices straight from the factory1.
Embedded Mobile Broadband Benefits to educators and students.
Having a notebook or Netbook with 3G wireless built-in allows teachers and students to access data without the limitations of a localized wired or Wi-Fi network, but with security and control mechanisms that can rival these traditional network access methodologies.
The benefits include:
Always on: Students, educators, and administration can move from one room to another, one building to another, or even one campus to another without ever losing 3G connectivity when it is built-in to notebooks. When mobile broadband is built-in to systems, a notebook can be put into suspend mode or shut down and then automatically connect to a wireless network once awakened or rebooted.
Simplicity: With embedded mobile broadband, software is already installed so there is no need to load additional software, which may not be compatible with other applications on the notebook. There are no external devices to attach
Durability: The 3G wireless chipset is built directly on to the motherboard and the antenna is embedded into the screen; thus there is nothing to track, lose or break. This also helps keep costs for administrations down.
Productivity: Having connectivity anytime, anywhere a cell phone call can be made, a teacher’s and student’s productivity is increased. This translates into increased learning and performance. The built-in antenna also gets better reception than external air cards or USB dongles which means an increase in throughput – higher speed uploads and downloads.
Asset Tracking: Today’s embedded module also includes an onboard GPS (Global Positioning System) system that works in connection with mobile broadband connectivity which can provide administrators and/or students a tracking mechanism if the notebook is lost or stolen, even when the computer is in a suspend state. Data can also be remotely erased to protect confidential information, such as student records, social security numbers, answers to mid-term exams, etc. when a notebook goes missing2.
To meet the needs of educators and students, Lenovo has teamed with industry leaders like AT&T and Ericsson to create embedded mobile broadband solutions that provide students and educators with unfettered access to the Internet, remote learning and educational content. Working with your school, Lenovo can enable:
- Cloud computing
- Secure and safe high-speed access
- Connection of students in rural communities
- Addressing the nomadic nature of students
Lenovo's partnership with AT&T offers our customers access to the fastest 3G network in the country3. Our relationship with Ericsson, the industry leader in HSPA technology, provides our customers with a superior broadband module integrated into select Lenovo notebooks and Netbooks. The Ericsson module is capable of realizing double the speeds AT&T is offering today, so as AT&T upgrades the network the Lenovo internal modem is already certified to take advantage of increased speed without any user intervention.
Lenovo’s solutions are compatible with the Anti-Theft technology from Intel and Absolute. As devices, network access and content become increasingly mobile, threats to safety, security breaches of students’ personal information and administration liabilities also increase. Lenovo not only enables extended broadband access and capabilities, but it enhances your security in the process.
For a list of Lenovo’s notebooks and Netbooks with the embedded AT&T and Ericsson mobile broadband solution, please click here.
Please visit http://www.corp.att.com/edu/ to learn about other ways in which AT&T is creating dynamic solutions for education.
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1 Frost & Sullivan, December 2008; "World Laptop and Mobile Computing Markets: Realities of Limited Broadband Wireless Adoption".
2 Both tracking and data management requires additional third-party service.
3 The fastest 3G network claim is based on a variety of tests conducted by leading third party researchers, who downloaded a variety of applications and files to test throughput and overall performance. AT&T was the winner by a significant margin. 3G not available in all areas.