3G or 3rd generation mobile telecommunications, is a generation of standards for mobile phones and mobile telecommunications services fulfilling the International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT — 2000) specifications by the International Telecommunication Union. Application services include wide-area wireless voice telephone, mobile Internet access, video calls and mobile TV, all in a mobile environment. To meet the IMT-2000 standards, a system is required to provide peak data rates of at least 200 kbit/s. Recent 3G releases, often denoted 3.5G and 3.75G, also provide mobile broadband access of several Mbit/s to smartphones and mobile modems in laptop computers.
The following standards are typically branded 3G:
* the UMTS system, first offered in 2001, standardized by 3GPP, used primarily in Europe, Japan, China (however with a different radio interface) and other regions predominated by GSM 2G system infrastructure. The cell phones are typically UMTS and GSM hybrids. Several radio interfaces are offered, sharing the same infrastructure:
o The original and most widespread radio interface is called W-CDMA.
o The TD-SCDMA radio interface, was commercialised in 2009 and is only offered in China.
o The latest UMTS release, HSPA+, can provide peak data rates up to 56 Mbit/s in the downlink in theory (28 Mbit/s in existing services) and 22 Mbit/s in the uplink.
* the CDMA2000 system, first offered in 2002, standardized by 3GPP2, used especially in North America and South Korea, sharing infrastructure with the IS-95 2G standard. The cell phones are typically CDMA2000 and IS-95 hybrids. The latest release EVDO Rev B offers peak rates of 14.7 Mbit/s downstreams.
The above systems and radio interfaces are based on kindred spread spectrum radio transmission technology. While the GSM EDGE standard ("2.9G"), DECT cordless phones and Mobile WiMAX standards formally also fulfill the IMT-2000 requirements and are approved as 3G standards by ITU, these are typically not branded 3G, and are based on completely different technologies.
A new generation of cellular standards has appeared approximately every tenth year since 1G systems were introduced in 1981/1982. Each generation is characterized by new frequency bands, higher data rates and non backwards compatible transmission technology. The first release of the 3GPP Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard does not completely fulfill the ITU 4G requirements called IMT-Advanced. First release LTE is not backwards compatible with 3G, but is a pre-4G or 3.9G technology, however sometimes branded "4G" by the service providers. WiMAX is another technology verging on or marketed as 4G.
The following common standards comply with the IMT2000/3G standard:
* EDGE, a revision by the 3GPP organization to the older 2G GSM based transmission methods, utilizing the same switching nodes, basestation sites and frequencies as GPRS, but new basestation and cellphone RF circuits. It is based on the three times as efficient 8PSK modulation scheme as supplement to the original GMSK modulation scheme. EDGE is still used extensively due to its ease of upgrade from existing 2G GSM infrastructure and cell-phones.
o EDGE combined with the GPRS 2.5G technology is called EGPRS, and allows peak data rates in the order of 200 kbit/s, just as the original UMTS WCDMA versions, and thus formally fullfills the IMT2000 requirements on 3G systems. However, in practice EDGE is seldom marketed as a 3G system, but a 2.9G system. EDGE shows slightly better system spectral efficiency than the original UMTS and CDMA2000 systems, but it is difficult to reach much higher peak data rates due to the limited GSM spectral bandwidth of 200 kHz, and it is thus a dead end.
o EDGE was also a mode in the IS-135 TDMA system, today ceased.
o Evolved EDGE, the latest revision, has peaks of 1 Mbits/s downstream and 400kbits/s upstream, but is not commercially used.
* The Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, created and revised by the 3GPP. The family is a full revision from GSM in terms of encoding methods and hardware, although some GSM sites can be retrofitted to broadcast in the UMTS/W-CDMA format.
o W-CDMA is the most common deployment, commonly operated on the 2100 MHz band. A few others use the 900 and 1850 MHz bands.
o HSPA is a revision and upgrade to W-CDMA UMTS, used by AT&T Wireless, Telstra and Telecom NZ, typically broadcasting on the 850 MHz band. HSPA requires updates to the
+ HSPA+ a revision and upgrade of HSPA, can provide peak data rates up to 56 Mbit/s in the downlink in theory (28 Mbit/s in existing services) and 22 Mbit/s in the uplink. It utilises multiple base stations to potentially double the channels available utilising MIMO principles.
* The CDMA2000 system, or IS-2000, standardized by 3GPP2 (differing from the 3GPP, updating the IS-95 CDMA system, used especially in North America and South Korea.
o EVDO Rev. B is the latest update, offering downstream peak rates of 14.7 Mbit/s. It is used primarily by the US carrier Verizon.
While DECT cordless phones and Mobile WiMAX standards formally also fulfill the IMT-2000 requirements, they are not usually considered due to their rarity and unsuitability for usage with mobile phones.
 Detailed breakdown of 3G systems
The 3G (UMTS and CDMA2000) research and development projects started in 1992. In 1999, ITU approved five radio interfaces for IMT-2000 as a part of the ITU-R M.1457 Recommendation; WiMAX was added in 2007.
There are evolutionary standards (EDGE and CDMA) that are backwards-compatible extensions to pre-existing 2G networks as well as revolutionary standards that require all-new network hardware and frequency allocations. The cell phones used utilise UMTS in combination with 2G GSM standards and bandwidths, but do not support EDGE. The latter group is the UMTS family, which consists of standards developed for IMT-2000, as well as the independently developed standards DECT and WiMAX, which were included because they fit the IMT-2000 definition.
The first pre-commercial 3G network was launched by NTT DoCoMo in Japan, branded as FOMA. It was first available in May 2001 as a pre-release (test) of W-CDMA technology. The first commercial launch of 3G was also by NTT DoCoMo in Japan on 1 October 2001, although it was initially somewhat limited in scope; broader availability of the system was delayed by apparent concerns over its reliability.
The second network to go commercially live was by SK Telecom in South Korea on the CDMA-based 1xEV-DO technology in January 2002. By May 2002 the second South Korean 3G network was by KT on EV-DO and thus the Koreans were the first to see competition among 3G operators.
The first European pre-commercial network was an UTMS network on the Isle of Man by Manx Telecom, the operator then owned by British Telecom, and the first commercial network (also UTMS based W-CDMA) in Europe was opened for business by Telenor in December 2001 with no commercial handsets and thus no paying customers.
The first commercial United States 3G network was by Monet Mobile Networks, on CDMA2000 1x EV-DO technology, but this network provider later shut down operations. The second 3G network operator in the USA was Verizon Wireless in October 2003 also on CDMA2000 1x EV-DO. AT&T Mobility is also a true 3G UMTS network, having completed its upgrade of the 3G network to HSUPA.
The first pre-commercial demonstration network in the southern hemisphere[dubious – discuss] was built in Adelaide, South Australia by m.Net Corporation in February 2002 using UMTS on 2100 MHz. This was a demonstration network for the 2002 IT World Congress. The first commercial 3G network was launched by Hutchison Telecommunications branded as Three in March 2003.
Emtel Launched the first 3G network in Africa.
By June 2007, the 200 millionth 3G subscriber had been connected. Out of 3 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide this is only 6.7%. In the countries where 3G was launched first – Japan and South Korea – 3G penetration is over 70%. In Europe the leading country is Italy with a third of its subscribers migrated to 3G. Other leading countries by 3G migration include UK, Austria, Australia and Singapore at the 20% migration level. A confusing statistic is counting CDMA2000 1x RTT customers as if they were 3G customers. If using this definition, then the total 3G subscriber base would be 475 million at June 2007 and 15.8% of all subscribers worldwide.
3G was relatively slow to be adopted globally. In some instances, 3G networks do not use the same radio frequencies as 2G so mobile operators must build entirely new networks and license entirely new frequencies, especially so to achieve high-end data transmission rates. Other delays were due to the expenses of upgrading transmission hardware, especially for UMTS, whose deployment required the replacement of most broadcast towers. Due to these issues and difficulties with deployment, many carriers were not able to or delayed acquisition of these updated capabilities.
In December 2007, 190 3G networks were operating in 40 countries and 154 HSDPA networks were operating in 71 countries, according to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA). In Asia, Europe, Canada and the USA, telecommunication companies use W-CDMA technology with the support of around 100 terminal designs to operate 3G mobile networks.
Roll-out of 3G networks was delayed in some countries by the enormous costs of additional spectrum licensing fees. (See Telecoms crash.) The license fees in some European countries were particularly high, bolstered by government auctions of a limited number of licenses and sealed bid auctions, and initial excitement over 3G's potential.
The 3G standard is perhaps well known because of a massive expansion of the mobile communications market post-2G and advances of the consumer mophone. An especially notable development during this time is the smartphone (for example, the iPhone, and the Android family), combining the abilities of a PDA with a mobile phone, leading to widespread demand for mobile internet connectivity.3G has also introduced the term "mobile broadband" because its speed and capability makes it a viable alternative for internet browsing, and USB Modems connecting to 3G networks are becoming increasingly common.