I have been tracking the progress of 3G mobile broadband over the years, and I want to bring your attention to a recent Gartner report that says 3G speeds are overstated. The research firm said:
"Most providers market speeds as high as 1.8Mbit/sec. on their 3G networks, [but] the fine print doesn't guarantee such speeds."
Gartner focuses on US-based providers such as AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile, and is critical of them marketing services as "broadband" even though network tests shows that they actually obtain an average that is lower. Having used the 3G mobile broadband in Singapore over the last year and a half, I must concur that my general experiences matches the findings.
I am not saying that mobile broadband doesn't work - it does. In fact, it has given me unsurpassed flexibility to work on the move - I even managed to submit an urgent assignment on a moving train once, as well as worked productively in numerous cafes or remote locations. Where its transfer speed is concerned, 3G mobile broadband delivers an experience that is leaps and bounds ahead of GPRS or EDGE technologies.
However, I have learned that advertised transfer speeds of 3.6Mbps or 7.2Mbps are rarely achieved in the real world. In fact, 1Mbps transfer speeds are far more common, and even that is subject to drop-outs or dramatic slow-downs due to poor local reception.
So how is this research relevant to a SMB owner?
Well, if you opening a new satellite office for your small and medium business, you will probably want to reconsider using a 3G Internet router to host the Internet connectivity. Though they might be more expensive, traditional leased line or business-grade ADSL connectivity remains important technologies to provide robust and Internet consistent service to your SMB.
Where your mobile workers are concerned, don't expect them to finish downloading that huge presentation file you sent them minutes before the important meeting with their client.