The web for wanderers

You don’t have to be tethered to a desk to enjoy the riches of the internet. Nathan Taylor outlines how to get on the web when you’re out and about.

On 4 June 2007, a Missy Higgins concert was broadcast live on the internet. In this age of internet video, it wasn’t that remarkable – except for the fact that if you were a Telstra 3G phone owner, you could also watch it on your mobile phone at the same time as it was being broadcast on the Big Pond TV site. For the privilege of being able to watch it on a moving train or car, Telstra charged one dollar.

In fact, you can do much more now than watch broadcast movies on your mobile while on the go. With the growth in mobile broadband, you can access whatever the internet throws up from wherever you are. You can browse Wikipedia on your BlackBerry while on the train (which is a great way to resolve that argument with your friends about why navel lint is always the same colour, or whether the Queen’s Birthday holiday is actually the Queen’s birthday), you can IM (Instant Message) your friends from the waiting lounge at the airport, watch live cricket on your mobile at work when your boss is not around and download music to your phone from online music stores while you wait in line at Starbucks.

Even a year ago, doing anything like that on your mobile phone was extraordinarily expensive. Mobile internet access for notebook PCs through providers such as iBurst and Unwired was more reasonable – but then, it’s not always practical to have a notebook computer on you.

Now, however, we’re seeing an explosion of possibilities for mobile internet access. In particular, 3G internet access prices have dropped dramatically, allowing broadband-like speeds for mobile phones to access and browse the internet. PCs can also use those 3G services to access the internet while on the road – perhaps not as cheaply as with other PC-based services such as hotspots and wide-area wireless providers, but with far greater coverage.