What is a mobile network?


Close lesson
You have completed 0%

What is a mobile network?

Keeping up to date whilst travelling on the bus

What's coming up?

In this activity, we will explain two main things about your phone:

  • what data is
  • what mobile data or mobile internet is.

We'll also talk about what mobile data enables you to do.

Start activity

Smart devices and the internet

Mobile phones and tablets can do a lot. The newest types of mobile phones are called smartphones because of all their extra features. Most of these features are about going onto the internet to do different things.

Smart devices are like handheld computers that can do just about everything a computer can, but in a slightly different way.

An illustration of a mobile phone surrounded by icons for internet usage
A comparison of text, photo and video data usage

Understanding data

Like a computer, a smart device can display web pages, show photos, get email and even play movies from the internet. All this internet content is sent to your device as data.

How much data you need to use depends on what you are looking at. For example, a page of text needs far less data than a photograph to display, and a photograph needs less data than a movie.

10GB of data can allow you to do many things on the internet

Measuring data

Data is measured in gigabytes (usually referred to by the letters GB).

A home internet plan usually allows you many more gigabytes of data per month than a mobile phone plan.

Wi-Fi and mobile internet in one

A smartphone can use a home Wi-Fi network to get data from the internet, just like a computer. But a smartphone can also get data from the internet via a mobile data network.

Mobile data (mobile internet) is transmitted by the same mobile phone towers used to make voice calls on a mobile phone.

A smartphone can use both home and mobile internet services
A zoomed-in view of the signal strength being received on a mobile phone

The mobile advantage

A smartphone can stay connected to the internet all the time. As long as the phone has a minimum amount of reception, it can get data in the form of web pages, email, photos and more, using a mobile data network.

In fact, a smartphone can do so much, for many people, its internet and data features are more important than making voice calls.

Let's check ...

Decide if each of these statements are true or false. Click each card to turn it over and find the answer.

Data is measured in gigabytes (GB).

Click to flip

This is true! Just like we measure power in watts, we measure data in gigabytes (GB).

A smartphone can do most things a computer can do.

Click to flip

This is true! Smartphones are just like mini computers and can do most of the same things.

A smartphone can only use mobile data, it can't use a home Wi-Fi network.

Click to flip

This is false! A smartphone can use both mobile internet (also called mobile data), and it can also use your home Wi-Fi.

Well done!

This is the end of the What is a mobile network? activity. You've learned that mobile phones use the mobile phone network to connect to the internet, and that smartphones use the internet to do many different things - even as much as a laptop computer.

Next, we'll find out how a mobile data network is different from your home network and Wi-Fi, in the activity How is a mobile network different from Wi-Fi?

Music on mobile phones can also be used as inspiration for keeping fit!