Getting to know mobile networks: The basics

The basic premise of mobile marketing is that you’re engaging the consumer
over mobile networks. There are three basic mobile networks:
✓ Mobile carrier network: The mobile carrier network (also referred to as
the operator network) consists of a series of radio towers (so-called cell
towers) that transmit and receive radio signals that talk with a mobile
device. All kinds of technologies and acronyms go into making all this
work: CMDA, TDMA, GSM, LTE, EDGE, and so on, but you really don’t
need to know anything about these. You’ll also hear terms like 2G, 3G,
and 4G, with the higher numbers referring to faster data speeds over
the network. A 4G network is pretty close to broadband Internet speeds
over mobile carrier networks (for example, its speed enables things like
real-time, interactive video conferencing and social media). Again, you
don’t need to know much about this, other than to understand that 4G is
just starting to get released in the United States and only about 30%–40%
of consumers use 3G now. Most consumers are on 2G. This means that
a lot of 2G text messaging goes on with very little 4G real-time video
streaming. This makes more sense when you read the rest of this book
and understand all that you can do with mobile marketing.
✓ Wi-Fi and WiMAX: Wi-Fi, or wireless fidelity, more commonly referred
to as a wireless local area network, is a wireless network powered by
a small terminal connected to an Internet connection. You see them
most often in homes, coffee shops, airports — actually, you see and
hear about them all over the place. WiMAX is a Wi-Fi network on steroids.
A WiMAX network is a Wi-Fi network that is broadcast over miles
rather than a few hundred feet like Wi-Fi. Why should you care about
this? Most new phones, that is, smartphones and connected devices,
by definition can connect to Wi-Fi and WiMAX networks to access the
Internet. In fact, if you try to download really large files, like applications
or videos, on devices like the iPhone, the mobile carrier may require you
to either switch to a Wi-Fi network or connect to a personal computer to
download the content because they’d prefer to restrict these larger data
files from being downloaded over the carrier network. A huge amount
of mobile marketing (ad serving, application downloading, and mobile
Internet browsing) happens over these networks.
✓ Local frequency: Finally, a number of low frequency channels can
be used to exchange data and interact with the mobile device, like
Bluetooth, radio frequency identification (RFID), and Near Field
Communication (NFC). Bluetooth is a low-bandwidth radio spectrum
that has a reach of about 1 to 109 yards, depending on the power of the
device. RFID and NFC systems are similar in concept to Bluetooth in that
they’re both short-range communication systems, but they have unique
identification and commerce capabilities.


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