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What Is a 3G Standard?

A 3G standard network may incorporate communications satellites.
A tablet PC using 3G technology.
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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2014
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A 3G standard is a specified standard for telecom tools and systems. A group called the International Telecommunications Union defines these sets of standards, and what they offer to the mobile telecom community. The International Telecommunications Union or ITU was founded as the International Telegraph Union in 1865 and still plays a leading role in developing international standards as part of the United Nations infrastructure.

Types of communications covered by this kind of telecom standard include wireless telephone calls and wireless data transfer. Palm devices that provide Internet access also rely on the same telecom standards. A 3G standard ensures specific volume capacity for these systems, as well as rates of transmission and other aspects of operational use.

Part of the 3G standard is for a rate of transmission. The 3G standard offers 14 megabits per second on an uplink, and 5.8 megabits on a downlink. A megabit, as a unit of data transmission, is equal to one million bits. Uplink and downlink are terms for satellite based transmission. Uplink is a signal going from the ground up to a satellite, and downlink is a signal coming down to the end user.

3G standards for wireless telecom are a twenty-first century invention. The first 3G network was implemented in Japan in 2001. Since that time, various U.S. telecom companies have implemented 3G technology, prior to moving on to 4G standard services.

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One common type of 3G service is WiMAX. WiMAX technology provides for “last mile” transmission to the end user. When used in this context, “last mile” may actually refer to longer distances, where the WiMAX service takes a signal from the last closest point of wired transmission.

Practically, 3G standard service offers more to users of wireless communications devices. Types of services that were not previously feasible are now common with faster and more reliable wireless data transmission services. These include mobile TV, video conferencing, and other services that rely on huge amounts of data transmission.

Although a 3G standard does provide specific rate of transmission information as mentioned above, critics point out that because of factors in practical application, users can’t always be sure of a consistent speed of data flow. Consumer groups are looking at how the ITU and related groups are promoting consistency with the 3G standard. Other critics of the 3G standard point out that multiple international identifications for standards have created a kind of "mixed" standard, including U.S. based CDMA and UMTS, the prevailing system for European and Japanese markets. Future work on 4G and other new systems will most likely include more definition to clarify the parameters of a telecom standard.

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