The number of mobile phones in use worldwide runs into billions. Some figures put it at over 4 billion mobile phones. This is more than the number of PCs and TVs in use globally put together. More and more mobile phones now come with internet access capability, empowering users to browse the internet from anywhere. Mobile browsing is increasingly being popular and in some countries like Nigeria, accessing the internet via mobile phones is dominant.
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Presently, the cheapest option for connecting to internet in Nigeria is via a mobile phone, because it is cheaper and hassle free. Browsing the internet with mobile phones is also popular because most people wishing to connect to internet already have a mobile phone and in some cases, these mobile phones are internet ready. This means that all one needs to connect to internet via a mobile phone is to subscribe to such a service or at most a data/USB cable.
A lot of Nigerians access internet at home using mobile phones. Wi-Fi still have limited deployment making technologies like GPRS, EDGE, CDMA 1X, CDMA EVDO, WCDMA, and HSDPA the dominant mobile browsing technologies in Nigeria. Users can either browse directly on the mobile phone or use the mobile phone as an internet modem for connecting a desktop or laptop computer to the internet.
When used on its own, mobile phones are used for accessing information like news, weather reports, flight schedules, stock report, traffic report, and other such specific information on the internet. Mobile phones can also be used for accessing email, SMS, and chat services as well as download music and short video clips from the internet. You can also catchup with your buddies on Facebook and Twitter via a mobile phone. Mobile phone may not be suitable for accessing some websites. For example registering for WAEC or JAMB examination can be a daunting task if not impossible with a mobile phone.
This not to say that you cannot access such websites on mobile phones, but the limited capability and physical size of mobile phones make, accessing such websites daunting.
When accessing large amount of information or inputting large amount of data in a form, a mobile phone on its own may not be appropriate, but can be used to connect a larger device like a computer to the internet. Using your mobile phone as a modem for connecting your computer to the internet offers a more comfortable platform with a larger display, more processing power, and full QWERTY keyboard.
With advancements in technology, high-end mobile phones now offer larger displays, clikable multi-touch touchscreens and full QWERTY keyboards, making internet browsing easier and more user friendly.
A mobile phone can be used as a modem to connect to internet. This is often done with a data cable, although USB cables are now supported by recent mobile phones. Other technologies like Bluetooth and infrared can be used to connect your computer to the internet using your mobile phone as an internet modem.
Before accessing internet with mobile phones you need to set them up with the appropriate internet/3G/GPRS settings. Only then will it be able to access the network.
Mobile Browsing Technologies
A number of mobile technologies enable mobile browsing. These include:
GPRS: GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) is the minimum requirement for mobile internet browsing with a GSM mobile phone in Nigeria. GPRS offers a maximum speed of about 115kbps, but in actual use, GPRS will achieve between 5kbps to 36kbps. If you are looking for a cheap means of using a mobile phone to browse the internet, a GPRS enabled mobile phone will be a good choice.
EDGE: EDGE is an advancement of GPRS offering improved speed for your mobile browsing. EDGE offers average speed range of between 56kbps to up to 460kbps. If you want more speed for your downloads the go for EDGE mobile browsine.
CDMA 1X CDMA 1X is the minimum requirement for mobile internet browsing via CDMA mobile phones in Nigeria. CDMA 1X offers similar data transfer speed as GPRS.
3G 3G provides faster access to the internet. CDMA networks offer 3G data services via EVDO, while GSM networks offer 3G services via UMTS (WCDMA). Note that some 3G networks offer comparable mobile browsing speed to GSM EDGE networks.
HSDPA (3.5G) HSDPA is an evolution of WCDMA (UMTS). HSDPA offer higher data speeds of up to 7Mbps although operators in Nigeria publish maximum of 3.6Mbps. In the real world, expect data transfer speeds of between 200kbps to 800kbps. MTN, Zain and Glo mobile currently offer 3.5G high-speed internet services in Nigeria.
WAP: WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) is a technology that offers limited internet services to mobile phones. A mobile phone with a WAP browser will enable a mobile user to browse web pages tailored for mobile phones. WAP can be used to download music, ringtones, and videos. Information like stock market reports, traffic reports, sports results, and weather reports can also be accessed via WAP pages. A WAP browser is basic on both GPRS and CDMA 1X mobile phones.
XHTML: XHTML (eXtensible HyperText Mark-up Language) is a technology that brings PC internet experience to mobile phones. XHTML pages are tailored for mobile phones, but offer more possibilities. A mobile phone with a WAP 2.0/XHTML internet browser can access well optimised website. Nigeria Technology Guide (www.naijatechguide.com) is optimized for mobile browsing via WAP 2.0/XHTML browsers like Opera mini. With a WAP 2.0/XHTML internet browser you can browse WAP pages as well as mobile optimised pages.
HTML: HTML (HyperText Mark-up Language) offer the same PC internet experience. A mobile phone with a HTML browser will access full fledged internet web sites. Smartphones and mobile phones with large screen sizes usually come with browsers capable of handling HTML, XHTML, and WAP.
Opera mini: Opera mini is the most popular browser for mobile browsing. It offers super fast performance plus other mobile browsing features speed dial, multiple website access, and zoom in. With Opera mini you can synchronize your Opera mini mobile browsing with your internet browsing on your computer. You can open a webpage on your computer with Opera browser, and continue accessing the same page on your mobile phone with the Opera mini and vice versa.
Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) enables wireless mobile internet access via a Wi-Fi or Wi-Max hotspot. Mobile browsing via Wi-Fi is faster than other mobile phone data services like GPRS, EDGE, EVDO, and HSDPA.
Bluetooth: Bluetooth enables short-range wireless transfer of data between two or more devices. Bluetooth can be used to connect a desktop or laptop to internet via a mobile phone. Bluetooth requires no line of sight.
USB: Bluetooth enables short-range wired transfer of data between two or more devices. USB can be used to connect a desktop or laptop to internet via a mobile phone.
Constraints of mobile browsing
Browsing the internet with mobile phones come with a number of challenges. One challenge being the small screen size, which reduces the viewing area. The reduced viewing area adds to colour and pixel limitation reducing the mobile internet browsing experience.
The absence of a standard QWERTY keyboard in most mobile phones is also a major constraint of mobile browsing. Even when QWERTY keyboards are available, the characters are crammed together because of limited space reducing usability on the internet and limiting mobile browsing to only gathering information. Keying characters with mobile phones is a major challenge today.
Another major constraint is the processing power of mobile phones, which are still behind desktop processing power. This means that some internet applications available to desktop and laptop users may fail on mobile phones. However, most internet applications now have down-sized versions of their apps designed specifically for mobile browsing.
Websites are usually optimised for mobile browsing environment. Nigeria Technology Guide (www.naijatechguide.com) is optimized for mobile internet browsing.
When using your mobile phone as an internet modem, battery capacity of the mobile phone may become an issue.
Mobile phones for mobile browsing
Here are a number of mobile phones with internet support:
- Microsoft Lumia 950
- Samsung Galaxy S7
- iPhone 6S
- Huawei Mate 8
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- BlackBerry Phones
- LG G5
- HTC 10
CDMA 1X & EVDO internet mobile phones
For CDMA mobile phones that support mobile internet browsing, visit any outlet of the CDMA operators, as most of them sell their mobile phones directly.