What is 3G – A Quick Look

What is 3G - A Quick Look3G is here or will be here! Much awaited spectrum has been auctioned and service providers are gearing up to launch their services.

Even the mobile phone manufacturers are excited too. 3G has been around for a while in Europe and East Asia and has been refined to work efficiently there.

International Telecom Union (ITU) tracks the evolution of the mobile communication systems. Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (UMTS) from GSM world and CDMA2000 from CDMA world were given status of 3G.

According to ITU a 3G system should provide faster communications services, including voice, fax and Internet, anytime and anywhere with seamless global roaming. ITU hasn’t mandated any data speed for 3G but a minimum data rate of 2 Mbit/s for stationary user and 384 kbit/s for a user in moving vehicle is expected.

Moving forward from UMTS are HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) and HSPA+ which are further referred to as 3.5G and 3.75G. GSM operators in India currently support GPRS/EDGE, which is 2.5/2.75G technology, which gives around 300Kbps speeds.

Next upgrade from EDGE is UMTS, but HSPA or HSPA+ should be the most preferred technology in India. HSPA is supposed to deliver 7 Mbps in downlink and around 2 Mbps in uplink depending on the network traffic conditions. Wait and watch!

Transition from GPRS to EDGE simply required a software upgrade on network and on mobile phone but 3G is an entirely different technology from 2G. Though the core network looks similar but the air interface technology is totally different, which means there is need for new antennas to be put up everywhere.

This incurs heavy costs the core network components are to be made more robust so as to handle high data speeds. More over the deployment scenarios are to be looked at and networks need to be refined. There is just so much work to be done but thanks to 3G deployments in other countries, service providers should be able to learn quickly.

During the first phase of 3G don’t expect the services to be next to God. Don’t expect your 3G mobiles to show continuous stream of videos without buffering fevers. The service is definitely going to be bad and there shall only be pockets of 3G deployed.

While you are outside you may experience a 3G network but once you are inside home or office the service might fall back to 2G. And with internet on mobile revolution catching up in India it’s going to tough time ahead for the network and service providers.

It’s interesting to note that how India has missed entire internet revolution on computer and started catching it up on mobile phones. In few days people who never operated a computer shall start viewing videos on youtube. This is quite a revolution considering how people learnt using internet on mobile in rest of the world.

3G should be big relief to the enterprise customers as their blackberries will be beeping faster with increase in incoming email rate due to high speeds. Another market to look at is net-books. With 3G technology and net-books being cheap the combination will work excellent for students and for people who are on the move.

There will be a whole new era of prepaid internet soon. All this at what expense is the question. Unlimited plans, limited plans, all you can eat plans, fair usage policies! There shall be a whole new trend in India in next few months. Hope things turn out good.

Next time! Untill then adios!

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30 Comments on "What is 3G – A Quick Look"


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June 7, 2013 11:39 am 11:39 AM

i am using idea 3g in anantapur,AP. i get constant download at 153kbps only.

June 6, 2013 4:17 pm 4:17 PM

No operator is providing 3G in all towers but just in metro cites. when one moves from city to other area there is no 3G and total wast for money for the consumer and total profit to the provider and moreover the tariff is very high that one cannot afford always.

July 14, 2010 4:06 pm 4:06 PM

will any cheap data plans will be available in future..bcoz bsnl unlimited 3g data plan costs Rs.2400/month

sAmAr Ali
July 14, 2010 6:26 am 6:26 AM

HSPA+ solution can transmit data via two or more carriers, resulting in the downlink data rate of 42Mbps, which improves an operator’s spectrum resources, enhances spectral efficiency by up to 20 per cent and doubles user data rates across the coverage area of a dual cell HSPA+ network.
So all the 3G Operator should build dual cell HSPA+ networks which offers data rate of 42Mbps with 5mhz spectrum.
T-Mobile in USA doing the same to compete with AT&T, Verizon pre-4G LTE & Sprint Wimax Network.

July 14, 2010 1:45 am 1:45 AM


July 13, 2010 8:36 pm 8:36 PM

SD :

Sanjay Bafna :

SD :

Santosh :
@Sanjay Bafna
Quite true Sanjay. I did miss out BSNL and MTNL.

If I am not wrong, it is HSPA only. HSPA+ is not yet in India.

HSPA+ also launched in some cities (not everywhere) in India where BSNL provide 8 Mbps Speed see this pic http://twitpic.com/24w0yd

Where was the photo taken?

The snapshot taken from BSNL OHH Campaign in March 2010 by Haryana Telecom Circle. The image itself says its from Haryana and also circle name is there.

July 13, 2010 8:18 pm 8:18 PM

Sanjay Bafna :

SD :

Santosh :
@Sanjay Bafna
Quite true Sanjay. I did miss out BSNL and MTNL.

If I am not wrong, it is HSPA only. HSPA+ is not yet in India.

HSPA+ also launched in some cities (not everywhere) in India where BSNL provide 8 Mbps Speed see this pic http://twitpic.com/24w0yd

Where was the photo taken?

July 13, 2010 6:25 pm 6:25 PM

I believe existing voice and sms features should not be effected with 3G. Only data packages should change. I did read a report couple of days back that AT&T has stopped its unlimited data offer. You can check here.

July 13, 2010 6:07 pm 6:07 PM
I think initially operators will not allow unlimited plans because then if they do then it will be like Aircel network after rs 98 unlimited offer it will get jammed by swamping so other than Bsnl,Mtnl nobody is going to give unlimited and they will most probably have FUP once the network has stabilised and a steady stream of customers have started using it then we can hope for better tariff Initially the tariff will surely be high around 900-1000 the cost of converting a tower to 3G is about rs 12 lakh so we can workout the math why… Read more »
July 13, 2010 5:01 pm 5:01 PM
Well technically speaking 3G has been longer than thought. In the form of EvDO (which is 3G CDMA). BSNL has EvDO in some cities and towns. Though speed promised is 3.1MBps and Rs.650 for unlimited, download speeds are around 512kbps to 1MBps. Also coverage is poor. EvDO has also been implemented by TATA (photon+) and Relience (NetConnect Broadband+ Evdo). Also BSNL has done a great job with BSNL 3G GSM with UMTS/WCDMA i.e., HSPA networks. Coverage is very good. Even my small town is covered. Speeds are great! 3.6MBps specified, I get around 2 MBps which is good enough for… Read more »