Why mobile needs a “broadband moment”

One of the key problems with building the mobile web and mobile apps is the speed at which the data arrives at the phone. What’s the point of building a mobile video website if the user has to wait ten minutes for the video to start? If you were to believe the networks they have been doing lots to improve the network and it’s all now lightning fast 3G. How wrong can you be?

Data from Broadbandgenie.co.uk shows there has been little to no increase in average mobile broadband speeds over the last 12 months. Despite the likes of 3, Vodafone and Virgin Media all advertising ‘up to’ speeds of 7.2Mb, the average is still below 1.2Mb.

Of those surveyed T-Mobile and Vodafone came out strongest, with average speeds around 1.2Mb,
while Orange lagged behind with an average of just 0.86Mb – so it’s a good job that they did that deal with T-Mobile. While O2 and 3 Mobile averaged closer to 1Mb, both showed an upward curve in average speeds from below 1Mb last August to around 1.2Mb.

These speeds just aren’t good enough. The results here show an average speed taken from thousands of speed tests. At times the speeds will be faster, but equally the speeds will sometimes crawl to a sails pace. If the mobile world is going to take off, it needs a “broadband moment.” The fixed web only really came into it’s own when we dumped the modems and switched to broadband. The same thing will happen in the mobile world when customers can rely on 3G being 3G. Developers are only really going to start developing truly cutting-edge mobile apps and mobile sites, when the connections to the mobile web are fast and reliable.

What’s the point in producing an app that gives you video stories and augmented reality images for the location you’re in, when the connection is 56k and it takes ten minutes to load, or crashes out entirely?