What is 3G?
Cellular mobile services were initially offered using analogue radio technologies and these were considered as the first generation systems (1G). The definition of 2G was straight forward because analogue radio networks were replaced with digital ones (2G networks) in the 1990’s. Mobile phones and wireless devices using 3G, send and receive data much faster than second generation (2G) systems enabling many more features and applications to be possible. It enhances the services such as multimedia, high speed mobile broadband, internet access with the ability to view video footage on your mobile handset.
With a 3G phone and access to the 3G network you can make video calls, watch live TV, access the high speed internet, receive emails and download music tracks, as well as the usual voice call and messaging services found on a mobile phone.
In technical terms, 3G is a generic term covering a range of wireless network standards & technologies including;
- CDMA – Wideband Code Division Multiple Access
- CDMA2000 – Code Division Multiple Access 2000
- UMTS -Universal Mobile Telecommunications System
- EDGE – Enhanced Data for Global Evolution
- HSPA – High Speed Packet Access including HSDPA and HSUPA
While 2G had evolved as a digital version of 1G analogue Radio network, its focus was initially into voice calls only. However over the period, due to requirement for internet connectivity when one is on the move, the technologies such WI-MAX, WI-FI etc were made part of 2G for mobile for internet/data service.
But with its mediocre data speed ranging from 56 kbps to 160 kbps, it was not serving the real purpose of internet usage. Whereas in the case of 3G, the technology itself is well oriented on data transfer in considerable bandwidth. This has made the concept of faster wireless connectivity a reality.
How does 3G work?
3G, or third generation networks, operate in a different way to 2G networks. When a call is made on 2G, a line is held open for the user’s conversation throughout the duration of the call. With 3G networks, the data sent across them is divided up into little ‘data packets’ which are reassembled in the correct order at the receiving end.
This smart encoding means more data can be sent and it is sent more efficiently. In addition, 3G handsets can be in contact with more than one base station at a time and this provides improved performances in voice quality and data rates.
3G is also called as “mobile broadband” because the evolution is similar to the difference between dial up internet and the always available broadband internet services.
The following are some of the services that could be provided through 3G
- Voice and Video calls
- Mobile TV
- Mobile Internet
- Mobile email
- Mapping and GPS applications
What is Required for Using 3G?
The first thing you require is a device (e.g. a mobile phone) that is 3G compatible. This is where the name 3G phone comes from – a phone that has 3G functionality. It’s nothing to do with the number of cameras or the memory it has.
3G phones commonly have two cameras since the technology allows the user to have video calls, for which a user-facing camera is required for capturing the image from the front.
You need to be subscribed to a service provider to get 3G network connectivity. We often call this kind of service a data plan or network plan.
Your device is connected to the 3G network through its SIM card (in the case of a mobile phone) or its 3G data card (which can be of different types: USB, PCMCIA etc.), which are both generally provided/sold by the service provider. Through that, you get connected to the Internet whenever you are within a 3G network.
3G in India
As such, Only BSNL & MTNL are providing 3G services in India that could be availed through 3G mobile phones. As a part of their 3G service BSNL and MTNL provide pure wireness internet connectivity for our PCs and laptops which could be availed through 3G Data card. In this 3G data card segment the private operators such as TATA Indicom, Reliance, MTS etc are also in the fray.
Presently the transfer rate for 3G networks is around 384 kbps (kilobits per second) and it will be between 128 and 144 kbps when you are out of city.
We the people in India are yet to be familier with devices that uses 3G technologies thanks to the very slow speed in which our policy makers work for allocating 3G spectrum to the service providers. Unfortunately a new technology like 3G is yet to invented to increase the speed our beloved politicians and policy makers. Jokes apart, network specialists are on the way to launch another new mobile technology called 4G which would take the basics of 3G and yet amplify its quality.
Experts say once the stage is set, 4G would offer 100 Mbps to roaming mobile device globally and around 1 Gbps to a stationary device. Clearly, this could have wider implications including overwhelming wireless performances like enhanced video conferencing, streaming panoramic video and much more. The following interesting image could be found over internet to depict the difference between 3G and 4G