3G technology stands for third generation technology and is the latest in mobile communication. This generation is intended for the true multimedia cell phone, or the smartphone, because it features increased transfer rates and bandwidth, so it can accommodate phone-based video files, audio files and web-based applications.
1G, the first generation began in the early 80s with the Advanced Mobile Phone Service cellular networks. These networks used FDMA, or Frequency Division Multiplexing Access to carry analog voice on 800 MHz frequency band. The second generation, 2G appeared in the 90s when some operators in North America adopted IS-95 which used CDMA to multiplex up to 64 calls per channel. Throughout the world, many operators started using GSM, or Global System for Mobile communication which used TDMA to multiplex up to 8 calls per channel.
According to the International Telecommunications Union, 3G technology aims to facilitate growth, support more applications and increase bandwidth. The second generation GSM could only deliver voice and circuit-switched data at 14.4 Kbps, while 3G had to deliver packet-switched data more efficiently and at better speeds. 3G technology involves several cellular access technologies, from which 3 are most common: CDMA2000 based on 2G CDMA, WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) and TD-SCDMA (Time-division Synchronous Code-division Multiple Access).
Today, 3G technology allows user a transfer speed of up to 3 Mbps, meaning that it takes about 15 seconds to download an MP3 song. This is far better than the fastest 2G phones that were limited at 144Kbps and required approximately 8 minutes to download a song. 3G networks are perfect for downloading all types of information from the Internet or sending and receiving multimedia files. A 3G phone can be compared to a mini laptop because accommodate applications like conferencing, sending and receiving faxes, downloading emails with large attachments and receiving streaming video from the web.
3G technology is a kind of omnipresent Wi-Fi, due to the fact that it provides internet access via the same cell-phone towers used for voice service. 4G is the same, only faster, reaching speeds ranging between 100MBPs to 1GBPS. Almost all devices are equipped to access 3G service, except some Wi-Fi only tablets such as the Kindle Fire, which can only connect to the internet where there is a Wi-Fi hotspot available. Some tablets, laptops and other gadgets have both 3G technology and Wi-Fi, although you have to spend more for these products. This could be useful if you travel a lot and don’t have access to Wi-Fi, but then again, you can use your smarphone as a hotspot or buy a mobile hotspot, a poket-size device that can connect to 3G or 4G networks and share that connection as Wi-Fi to 5 nearby devices.