3G Mobile Phones: What’s All the Fuss About?

3g Mobile Phone image
By: John Bertone
Mobile Communication Expert
Sydney, Australia

For the last few years there has been a lot of talk about 3G or Third Generation mobile phones.

Telecommunications and electronics manufacturing giants made the news as they battled to be the first in what was hoped would be a huge market for a new era of mobile communication, and then when 3G was actually set up, mobile phone companies tried to convince consumers to upgrade to the new services.

Despite all the talk, a lot of people still don’t know what 3G really means. What follows is a brief guide to 3G mobile phone communication.

What is it?

3G means that the new generation of mobile phones now have the capacity to hook up to wireless broadband services. The connection speed is 144 kbps and which is roughly three times the speed of a 56K dial up modem connection. Some services offer higher connection speeds.

With this enhanced connectivity you can now surf the Internet from a phone, enjoy streaming music video, watch on-demand video programming, download and play 3D games, and videoconference with your friends and colleagues.

Laptop users also can take advantage of 3G networks for mobile broadband without a Wi-Fi network; all you need is a carrier-supplied PC Card and a data plan.

What kinds of 3G networks exist?

There are two main varieties of 3G: UMTS (Universal Mobile Telephone Service), which uses W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) as its underlying standard, and CDMA2000 1xEV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimised), which brings 3G speeds to CDMA networks.

Both W-CDMA and 1xEV-DO are already available in major cities in Australia with more expansion coming soon. Speeds for both should be about entry-level ADSL quality.

Which Companies provide 3G services?

In Australia, The big four mobile phone networks / carriers all have 3G services, but they each have different plans, services and coverage areas.

Presently the service of these carriers is not provided in all localities, and when a user goes outside the 3G supported areas, the phones fall back on the normal GSM/ GPRS system enabling users to reach approximately 95% of the mobile phone population.

Service plans from the major providers range from around $20 a month and up.

What Kinds of Phones Support 3G?

If you want to take advantage of 3G you not only have to subscribe to a new service plan, but you need a new phone. Third-generation handsets offer video calls, music downloads and streaming services.

They're generally a bit bigger than their 2G predecessors but offer a whole lot more multimedia capacity. All the major manufacturers (Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Sharp, NEC, Samsung) sell models with 3G capacity.

Check with your service provider to find out which handsets are suitable for the plan that you wish to sign up for.

What’s coming next?

In the near future the connection speeds of 144kbps will be increased to 30-100 Mbps in the so-called 4G networks. These speeds will allow users to enjoy high-quality streaming video, high-quality videoconferencing and voice-over-IP mobile communication.

If you enjoy the services that you get on a broadband Internet connection and would like to have them in your pocket, then the time is right to take a close look at 3G mobile phones.

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