What was true about the mobile web a few years is no longer true today! The iPhone and many phones just like it changed the face of mobile web! However, people speak a lot about the mobile browsers and the browsing experience they provide, not many people pay attention to the fact that without sufficient speeds, those browsers would be useless.
After doing a little research on the topic, all the information I needed about mobile broadband, where it is today, and where it is going, I found at http://www.broadband-expert.co.uk/. To sum it up and make a little sense of all those complicated letters you see in phone reviews, here is what I have gathered.
First we had EDGE or 2.5g, which anyone who had a first gen iPhone knows, provided a painful mobile browsing experience. Then came 3g, which made mobile browsing a decent option if there was no Wifi hotspot in the area. By the way the official term for 3g on a GSM network is UMTS.
After 3g came HSDPA or 3.5g, which already gave you the option to surf comfortably on a non Wifi enabled phone but still was not as fast! The newest speed is HSUPA, which surfs at a ridiculous speed that is similar if not identical to Wifi.
What we have in store for us is of course 4g or what is known as WIMAX. This will provide higher speed connections than today's Wifi with no need for a hotspot due to its tremendous ratio of coverage!
There you have the breakdown of the different types of mobile broadband. I also found a useful table that helped me compare mobile broadband types and speeds implemented by the various providers.
Now, what can you do with these connections? Well besides having a full internet experience whenever and wherever, you can use the connection to connect a laptop and surf using your phone's mobile broadband. This was not the best option on 3g as it was still too slow but on HSUPA or Wimax, it might even beat Wifi!
An entire industry is developing around the fast moving mobile broadband market! There is the USB dongle (love that word) that enables you to insert your phone's SIM card into the dongle, plug it into your laptop, and you are good to go, no matter where you are located at that given moment (almost, and depending on your network coverage).
Here is a nice comprehensive list of various broadband offers, depending on your location. The bottom line is with the rapidly developing smartphone market (see the video below for a look at the future), the evolving web browser arena, and the growing dependency on the internet, mobile broadband has to keep up with the pace! So far, it is doing a great job at that, let's just see what tomorrow brings!