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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?

New alternatives
While these methods are in existence already, it does not mean that there are not alternatives ready to improve the download speeds. Some of these are specifications that have already been ratified, and are already in use, but not widely spread into the mobile industry as of yet, while others are still being developed.

802.11nThe first alternative is simply an expansion on the Wi-Fi connection. Phones today typically use the 802.11b or 802.11g band. However, 802.11n is available and most routers are capable of using the increased speed. There is a substantial increase in the bandwidth used for each standard. The b version is specified as 11Mbit/s, with an increase to 54Mbit/s in the g version. This gets further increased to 144Mbit/s with an 802.11n network.

USB 3.0In the download speed testing that was performed, USB delivered the fastest results. The latest version of the USB specification came out in 2008, eight years after the previous version, and offers a number of improvements. The most notable improvement is the increased transfer speed of 5Gbits/s compared to 480Mbit/s in the previous standard. This is a substantial improvement. However, USB 3.0 solutions are just now entering the marketplace meaning that there will still be a bit of time before mass adoption takes place, both in PCs and mobile devices.

Wireless USBOne method to take advantage of the faster transfer speeds without the necessary cables of USB is wireless USB. This method uses the USB protocols but extends it to be able to wireless transmit the signal to about 3m at speeds of 480Mbit/s or 10m at 110Mbit/s. However, while the technology has been available for a few years it has not gained a significant amount of traction in the industry.

While there are multiple methods for transferring content onto your phone, they vary in terms of speed and range of use. It is a trade off between these two parameters, resulting in either being physically connected to a computer via USB for the fastest transfer speeds, or having mobility with a 3G network at a slower speed. In the end the file size and access to a computer will play the dominant role in deciding which method to use. But in all reality, unless you are downloading a single song, and have time to spare, not to mention battery life, USB downloads remain the best option for transferring content over to your phone.

- Gregory A. Quirk
EE Times


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