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3G is a family of standards for mobile telecommunications. It followed on from GPRS, sometimes known as 2.5G and is now largely being overtaken by the newer 4G standard.
Services include wide-area wireless voice telephone, video calls, and wireless data, all in a mobile environment. It allows simultaneous use of speech and data services, so 3G networks enable network operators to offer users a wider range of more advanced services than was possible with the earlier GSM and GPRS options.
3G telecommunication networks support services that provide an information transfer rate of at least 200 Kbps. Later 3G releases, often denoted 3.5G and 3.75G, also provide mobile broadband speeds of several Mbps to smartphones, tablets and mobile modems in laptop computers.
A new generation of cellular standards has appeared approximately every tenth year since 1G systems were introduced in 1981/1982. Each generation is characterised by new frequency bands, higher data rates and non–backward-compatible transmission technology. The first 3G networks were introduced in 1998 and fourth generation “4G” networks in 2008.
The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) was formed in 1998 to foster deployment of 3G networks that descended from GSM. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) defined the third generation of mobile telephony standards IMT-2000 to facilitate growth, increase bandwidth, and support more diverse applications. For example, GSM could deliver not only voice, but also circuit-switched data at speeds up to 14.4 Kbps. But to support mobile multimedia applications, 3G had to deliver packet switched data with better spectral efficiency, at far greater speeds.
As demand increases exponentially for high volume video content to be viewable on millions of smartphones and tablets worldwide new technologies will leave older networks in their wake.