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Mobile data transfer: Speed vs. ease of use

Posted: 11 Aug 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:data transfer? Wi-Fi? USB? 3G?

3G test
With the introduction of 3G networks, more and more phones are taking advantage of the faster download speeds available, not to mention the improved call quality. These networks are not ubiquitous yet, and are mostly offered in larger cities as opposed to across the country.

Compared to the alternative methods, downloading over a 3G network is considerably easier. First off, you are not tethered to a specific location. With USB you are stuck beside a computer. With Wi-Fi you are limited to the range of the transmitter. With 3G you can download anywhere in the city with connectivity greatly expanding your mobility.

Second, you already have the connection set up. With Wi-Fi you need to enter in passwords on a protected network. Granted this does not take long, but some people enter a password when they first set up their home network and then forget what it is. This can mean that there is searching to try to find out what the password is.

However, there are drawbacks to having the increased mobility. It is definitely slower than the other alternatives, so it is a trade off. As well, depending on what type of service contract you have on your phone there can be additional fees. In some locations you are able to get unlimited download capabilities. In other locations, there is a cap on how much you can download without paying extra. This can limit the accessibility of the service.

As well, there are roaming charges to consider. Many have heard of the person who downloaded a movie onto his iPhone while in Mexico and received a $15K phone bill.

Interestingly, the price for downloading songs over the air was more expensive than downloading through alternative sources like the iTunes store. Songs cost $1.99 each compared to the typical cost of $0.99 from iTunes. However, you can download a low resolution version over the air, and receive a high resolution version the next time you connect to a PC, although that does defeat the purpose, somewhat, of downloading over a 3G network.

Finally, and this is the case with Wi-Fi as well, you are restricted on what you can transfer. Instead of being able to get content you already own onto your phone, you have to download content from the "cloud". So if you are really itching to listen to a song that you have ripped at home you have to either wait until you are at your computer with your USB cable, or have to download it again, which can mean paying for content that you have already paid for.

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