A 'third generation' wireless communications technology having evolved from first generation analog, and second generation digital, communication technologies.
Whenever someone someone asks me to explain what 3G systems are, I tend to think of huge departmental stores. All your basic needs – plus a few extra items thrown in to spice things up – under a single roof. A plea to modern man's psychological need for convenience. And that's how it is with the current crop of 3G packages. A simple, all-in-one access to everything users could ever want from a mobile phone (and then some).
But seriously now, what is 3G (or 2.5G for that matter)? Basically 3G systems are meant to be the ultimate upgrade to the current 2G systems that are operating under the Global System of Mobile Communications (GSM). GSM is referred to as the Second Generation (2G) of mobile phone technology, with the old analog mobile phone system being the first. Since current 2G phones send and receive data at only 9.6 Kilobits per second (kbps), the advent of text and multimedia messaging (MMS) has meant that the demand for drastically improved data transfer rates has been very strong.
3G systems are designed to offer increased voice capacity and higher-speed data rates by providing a more robust wireless pipeline. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a regulatory and standards-setting body, states that any system claiming to be 3G must be capable of a minimum speed of 144K bits / second, and theoretically going up to 2 Mbps. Very good, you might say. But why is there such a need for speed?
Well, 3G systems aim to provide faster access to all kinds of data, so turning your wireless phone (or appliance) into a handier, cooler, tool. This speed is matched with the promise that it will "keep people connected at all times and in all places." What results is the ability to access the Internet as you would at home, mobile instant messaging, enhanced multimedia options, usability as a fax / pager / e-mail tool, as well as the obvious promise of crisper and more stable voice communications. Very impressive, but not without a lion's share of problems.
For starters, 3G services are bound to be 'expensive', especially due to the very high prices paid for 3G spectrum licenses. Secondly, the services offered by 3G are nice, but are beyond the current demands of the average user. So now we have a situation where the consumer is not satisfied with the current level of service, yet is also balking at paying so much for something that resembles overkill.
To fill the void, 2.5G has evolved. 2.5G radio transmission technology is radically different from 2G technology because it uses packet switching. GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) is the European 2.5G standard, the upgrade from GSM. GPRS overlays a packet-switched architecture onto the GSM circuit-switched architecture. It is a useful evolutionary step on the road to 3G because it gives telecommunications operators an experience of operating packet networks, …