The iPhone is configured by default, most likely because of a bandwidth-limiting agreement with AT&T, to NOT download podcasts, software or other files via iTunes which exceed 10 MB in size. A couple weeks ago I wanted to download the latest NPR Technology Podcast “on the road,” but the filesize was greater than 10 MB so I couldn’t get it over 3G.

Podcast over 10 MB won't download over 3G

Thankfully, I was able to drive up outside a coffee shop with free wifi and “borrow” their bandwidth for the quick download. The 13 MB file took about two minutes to download over their high-speed wifi connection.

Downloading NPR podcast with drive-by wifi

While it was a slight inconvenience to not be able to download this podcast over the 3G network, it is WONDERFUL that awhile back Apple added the capability to download new podcast episodes like this without having to sync your iPhone or iPod Touch to your laptop or desktop computer using iTunes. Functionality like this makes the iPhone and iPod Touch even more “autonomous” / standalone devices than they have been previously. Syncing an iPhone or iPod Touch to another computer is still an essential part of the device’s functionality (and a great feature from a backup standpoint, in case it is lost or stolen) but I’m enjoying these enhanced opportunities to update content without syncing with a desktop version of iTunes.

One of the things I’ve learned the past few years, especially working with rural schools implementing 1:1 learning projects, is that it’s not necessary to provide “community-wide” wifi coverage for students to bridge the high-speed Internet “digital divide” locally. While ubiquitous wifi would certainly be great, it’s expensive and much more complicated to deploy than simply providing different “hot spots” in the community where students (and others) can “get connected” when needed.

This past October after I helped facilitate a videoconference during the opening session of the Oklahoma Academy‘s fall Town Hall, I visited with a participant who told me about some exciting work being done in some Oklahoma communities by tribal governments deploying wifi. I’m eager to learn more about these initiatives, because those communities would certainly be well positioned to help students in the community benefit from a 1:1 learning initiative.

I’m eager to give the new Nexus One smartphone from Google a try, and see how its functionality compares to the iPhone. The Nexus One is rumored to be coming soon, in early 2010. Since it will be sold unlocked, I’m hopeful I’ll be able to use the SIM card in my existing iPhone and simply plug it into a Nexus One to start using it. Wouldn’t it be great if mobile technology could be that easy? It will be interesting to see what bandwidth download limits (if any) are imposed by default on Google’s smartphone answer to the iPhone.

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  • http://www.russgoerend.com Russ Goerend

    Unfortunately, if you put your AT&T SIM card into the Nexus One, you’ll top out at EDGE speeds. The Nexus One doesn’t run on AT&T’s 3G bands. Which is really too bad, because I’m not a fan of T-Mobile.

  • Luy

    If the nexus one is running android then the only limitations to content size will be in the device storage. And Russ is correct, 3g is rumored to only work on tmobile and not on at&t unfortunatelly.

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