A 3G network provides wireless data transfer for mobile internet access, as well as voice and video calls over a large geographic area. 3G enables mobile phone operators to provide advanced services to customers. This is because data transfer can be completed at a faster rate. For example, in some cases speeds of up to 14 Mbits/s can be achieved, making downloading media content and surfing the web much more enjoyable.
Indeed the success and take up of mobile internet has largely been attributed to the speed by which people can download and consume content online and has led to far higher rates of smart phone adoption.
Japan was the first country to launch a 3G network in 2001 followed closely by Korea later in 2002. Although 3G has been around for some time now the market has not progressed as some predicted. In the beginning a limited number of licenses were made available in Europe, it was only possible to obtain a license via a sealed bid auction making it very expensive. Not only were the licenses expensive but the cost of setting up bespoke networks slowed the expansion of the service.
It was not until 2007 that the 200 millionth 3G network user was recorded. However, at this time there were over 3 billion mobile phone subscribers worldwide, which meant the 3G network had only penetrated less than 7% of the total market. The Apple iPhone has sold millions of handsets worldwide and continues to do so. It has recently launched a new 3G network based model called the iPhone 3Gs; this and other models like it are propelling the advancement of the 3G network, due to their functionality and usability.
The next generation mobile phone network, un-surprisingly dubbed “4G” is only a whisper at the moment, but promises even faster web browsing and data transfer capabilities. Currently, 3GPP and 3GPP2 are working on 3G network advancements. They are based on advanced wireless technology called MIMO, which is short for multiple-input and multiple-output. This technology uses multiple antennas at both the transmitter and receiver to improve communication performance. However, both of these projects are falling short of the 100 Mbits/s transfer speed in order to achieve the 4G standard. It seems it will be sometime before a wireless network achieves this kind of speed.
At the moment in the, UK Hutchison 3 the telecommunications company that provides three mobile phones delivers the largest 3G coverage at around 95%. It currently has around 9,000 masts in the UK alone and hopes to increase this number to over 14,000 in the short term, so it can achieve 98% coverage. The 3G network has taken some time to get going, but we can now all enjoy better wireless internet and communication access via this super fast network.