Mobile 101 – Part 4: Mobile Network

Already in this course, we’ve discussed Coverage, or how you can maintain a strong connection virtually anywhere you go…and Capacity, or how you can send and receive all the data you want and need quickly. Now, let’s talk about how it all comes together. We can do that by answering one simple question: How do mobile voice and data travel from point A to point B? If you ask people this question, there’s a good chance some of them will say something about satellites, and signals travelling into space. That’s pretty cool…but it’s not true. The fact is, people are so used to the idea of smart phones being “wireless,” they don’t imagine that a network of wires has anything at all to do with making them work. But actually, wires play a major role in “wireless” communication for mobile devices. Let’s use some examples to make sense of all of this... Say you want to open a web page from your phone. The phone sends a wireless signal to the nearest tower, or base station, requesting the data for this page. The base station is connected to a high-speed wired network and routes the request to wherever in the world the data for this page is kept. Once the request is fulfilled, the data travels back to the tower. The tower then sends the data back to your phone using a wireless signal. It works much the same way with phone calls: If you are talking to a friend 1000 kilometers away, that conversation runs through a network of wires just like accessing a web page. It’s only wireless when it travels between the towers and the phones. So here’s another question: if so much of wireless communication involves wires…then why do we call it “wireless?” Remember: the signal might only be wireless for the tiniest leg of its journey…but that part has the absolute biggest impact on our user experience, and is the difference between being tied to a computer or landline phone, and true mobile communications. Wires carry the signal most of the way, but it’s the technological breakthroughs of wireless technology that gives us our freedom. So that’s how mobile voice and data travel from point A to point B. This concludes the first level in our mobile technology learning course, and you now know all the basics of mobile communications. In the next level, we’ll take a look back at the evolution of mobile technology to understand how we have gone from limited voice services on this (show old phone with voice)… to delivering mobile broadband to billions of people worldwide on this (show 4G LTE phone with all the services).

Publish Date: Jul 24, 2014

Length: 2:41