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3G Technology

3G is one of the latest technologies to be incorporated into mobile devices today. With 3G people are able to gain access to data and information at almost anytime and from any place.

What is 3G?

3G (Third Generation) is also known as UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) and is said to be the next generation of mobile network. 3G is described by Cellular (2004) as being a generic name for a set of mobile technologies which comprise a host of high-tech infrastructure networks, handsets, base stations, switches and other equipment. This technology enables cell phones to offer high-speed Internet access, data, video and CD-quality music services.

The introduction of 3G

3G cellular phones were first launched in Japan in October 2001 and were introduced into South Africa in December 2004. This phone was designed so users would be able to surf the Internet, view pictures of the people they are talking to, watch movies and listen to music on their handsets (BBC News, 2001).

The difference between 3G and GPRS

GPRS and 3G serve similar functions but 3G data services are the next step up from GPRS (Vodacom, 2004). The main difference between these two technologies is that 3G is able to achieve significantly faster data transfer rates and this enables one to work faster. 3G offers speeds of up to 384 kilobits per second - that is up to 7 times faster than a standard dial-up connection (Orange, 2005). For more information on GPRS websites see our GPRS article.

What are the benefits of 3G?

With 3G you can do everything you do now, but you can do it much better, a lot faster and from almost anywhere! Some of the main advantages are that 3G allows for higher call volumes and supports multimedia data applications such as video and photography (3G Newsroom.com, n.d).

The effects of 3G on society

Some of the latest features which have been brought about by this technology are mentioned by Orange (2005) and include:

1. Video calling

With 3G you can now actually see the person on the other side! As long as both people have a 3G phone you no longer have to imagine what they look like and you can see them face-to-face via your cell phone's screen.

2. Obtaining information and news

With 3G technology it is possible to access any site on the Internet by using your phone as a modem with your laptop. You can use your favourite search engines to find information on the weather, the daily news, stocks and shares, or practically any other information you require to ensure that you are continually on top of things.

3. E-mail

Should you have left your office and forgotten to send an important e-mail, you are now able to quickly and efficiently perform this function directly by using your cell phone. Alternatively, you can use your cell phone as a modem to be connected to your laptop or PDA (Personal Digital Assistant).

4. Games

Since the invention of cell phones, games have always formed a part of mobile devices. As technology has developed, the games we are able to engage in have become far more interactive, exciting and entertaining. For those who play games over their mobile devices for recreation purposes or for those who simply play to pass the time, 3G now makes it possible to download these games at anytime and from almost anywhere.

5. Film

The speed and quality of 3G really contributes to enhancing the quality of film over mobile devices. One is now able to view film trailers, reviews, and interviews, download ring tones, wall papers and enter competitions all by means of your cell phone.

6. Sport

With the incredible sound and video quality of your 3G phone you can view highlights from your favourite matches and you'll always have access to the latest scores.

7. Music

It's now possible for you to download songs, music videos and interviews. You can even compose your own ring tone through your cell phone if you wish!

How are 3G services charged?

Users are charged on how much data they transmit and not on how much time they are connected to the network. This is because with 3G you are constantly online and only pay for the information you receive (3G Newsroom.com, n.d).

The future of 3G

A great deal of potential exists for new applications in the future as 3G packet based networks will allow users to be on line all the time. The capabilities of wireless networks in terms of bandwidth must still, however, be improved upon (3GNewsroom.com, n.d.).

Conclusion

3G is an exciting new technology that is being incorporated into mobile devices across the globe. Users are now able to make person-to-person calls, download data and do a variety of other tasks they never imagined possible all via their 3G cell phones.

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