3G refers to the third
generation of developments in wireless technology,
especially mobile communications. The third generation, as
its name suggests, follows the first generation(1G) and
second generation (2G) in wireless communications.
1G The 1G period
began inthe late 1970s and lasted through the 1980s. These
systems featured the first truemobile phone systems, known
at first as "cellular mobile radio telephone." These
networks used analog voice signaling, and were little more
sophisticated than therepeater networks used by amateur
2G The 2G phase began in the 1990sand much of
this technology is still in use. The 2G cell phone features
digitalvoice encoding. Examples include CDMA and GSM. Since
its inception, 2Gtechnology has steadily improved, with
increased bandwidth, packet routing, and theintroduction of
3G includes capabilities and features such as:
• Enhanced multimedia (voice, data, video, and remote
• Usability on all popular modes
e-mail, paging, fax, videoconferencing, and Web browsing).
• Broad bandwidth and high speed (upwards of 2 Mbps).
• Roaming capability throughout Europe, Japan, and North
While 3G is generally considered
applicable mainly to mobile wireless, itis also relevant to
fixed wireless and portable wireless. A 3G systemshould be
operational from any location on, or over, the earth's
surface, including use in homes, businesses, government
offices, medical establishments, the military, personal and
commercial land vehicles, private and commercial watercraft
and marine craft, private and commercial aircraft (except
passenger use restrictions
apply), portable (pedestrians, hikers, cyclists, campers),
and space stations and spacecraft.
3G offers the potential to keep
people connected at all times and in all places.
Researchers, engineers, andmarketers are faced with the
challenge of accurately predicting how much technology
consumers will actually be willing to pay for. Another
challenge faced by 3G services is competition from other
high-speed wireless technologies, especially mobile WiMAX,
and ability to roam between different kinds of wireless
The current status of mobile
wireless communications, as of June 2006, is a mix of 2nd
and 3rd generation technologies.
What is 3G?
The telecommunications world is continuing to change, and 3G
technology represents the next stage in mobile
communications. 3G is an evolution in terms
of services and data speeds from
second generation (2G) mobile networks.
There are now more than 65
million mobile phones in use in the UK. Today's mobile
customers have already demonstrated a demand for"non-voice"
and other new services. On average, 99 million text messages
are sent every day across the UK* . Proof of customer demand
has also been indicated by the use of increased data
services, such as instant e-mail and picture messaging, on
2G systems with GPRS (General Packet Radio Services).
3G broadband mobile communications makes access to
sophisticated workplace technology inside your phone (3G
handset compatibility required) even faster, making working
life more flexible and developing still further the "virtual
office" complete with emails, video conferencing and high
speed access to services without the daily commute.
How does 3G work?
3G-enabled devices ¡V including phones and laptops ¡V work by
sending and receiving radio signals to and from base
stations (sometimes known as ¡¥masts¡¦). Base stations link
individual phones into the rest of the mobile and landline
Base stations are low power radio transmitters and need to
be located in the areas they are intended to serve. They
provide coverage to a geographical area known as a cell.
These cells need to overlap to enable seamless coverage and
to ensure a user does not lose connection to the network
when on the move.
Radio waves used in mobile telecommunications form part of
the electromagnetic spectrum. Radio waves used to deliver 3G
services are transmitted at a slightly higher frequency than
for 2G and travel a shorter distance. As a result the
coverage area or cell size for a 3G base station is smaller
than for a 2G site. Furthermore, as user demand increases in
a particular cell, the size of that cell shrinks making
overlap even more essential.
Due to the advanced technology, the location of cell sites
is even more critical with 3G networks to avoid interference
between adjacent cells.
Will 3G mean more masts?
The cell sizes for 3G networks are smaller than for 2G and
so more base stations are required to cover the same area.
In line with planning guidance, wherever possible, operators
seek to upgrade their existing base stations or share sites
used by other operators. At the end of 2006 there were
49,000 base station sites in the UK. Additional mobile phone
base stations will need to be built to support 3G services.
It is possible that the number of base station sites will
rise to 51,000 by the end of 2007 to meet licence
requirements, but the final number will depend on customer
use. New installations that require planning consent will be
subject to the appropriate planning process.