FAQ - FAQ
The term ‘3G’ is often associated with mobile phone technologies but is now also being associated with wireless broadband (accessing the internet using a 3G network – the same network that your mobile phone uses), video and traditional voice.
3G is the third generation of mobile phone standards superseding 2G and preceding 4G. The major difference between 3G and 2G networks is how quickly data can be sent & received. 3G (HSDPA) networks can send data up to 10 times faster than traditional 2G networks.
3G is based upon the ITU family of standards under the IMT-2000 programme. 3G technologies allow carriers / network operators to offer more advanced services besides voice. These services are video and data all in the mobile environment.
Unlike traditional Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11 technologies) networks, 3G networks are wide area cellular telephone networks which evolved to incorporate high-speed internet access. IEEE 802.11 networks are short-range, high-bandwidth networks primary developed for data.
Telstra's Next G™ network is the largest third generation network in Australia, at more than 100 times the size of any other Australian 3G network. The Next G™ network can also be thought as an HSPA network.
This means 3G services are available to more Australians than ever before, and to many of you for the first time. The Next G™ network will provide Australians with the latest in mobile technology, supporting the ability to make and receive video calls, watch Mobile FOXTEL from Telstra, access the internet, receive emails and download music.
The Next G™ network utilises the 3GSM standard on the 850Mhz frequency band, and covers 99 per cent of the Australian population. It brings an exciting and growing range of products and services that will give Australians more ways to do more things, at faster speeds and in far more places than ever before.
The network will not only support services such as video calling and Video MessageBank®, but also high speed wireless broadband access. Additionally, global roaming to a large number of overseas countries is possible.
GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) is the technology that underpins most of the world's mobile phone networks. The GSM platform is a hugely successful wireless technology and an unprecedented story of global achievement and cooperation. GSM has become the world's fastest growing communications technology of all time and the leading global mobile standard, spanning 218 countries.
GSM is a digital cellular technology used for transmitting mobile voice and data services. GSM differs from first generation wireless systems in that it uses digital technology and time division multiple access transmission methods. GSM is a circuit-switched system that divides each 200kHz channel into eight 25kHz time-slots. GSM operates in the 900MHz and 1.8GHz bands in Europe and the 1.9GHz and 850MHz bands in the US.
The 850MHz band is also used for GSM and 3GSM in Australia, Canada and many South American countries. GSM supports data transfer speeds of up to 9.6 kbit/s, allowing the transmission of basic data services such as SMS (Short Message Service). Another major benefit is its international roaming capability, allowing users to access the same services when travelling abroad as at home. This gives consumers seamless and same number connectivity in more than 210 countries. GSM satellite roaming has also extended service access to areas where terrestrial coverage is not available.
Today, GSM technology is in use by more than one in three of the world's population - by June 2008 there were over 2 billion GSM subscribers, representing approximately 86% of the world's cellular market. The growth of GSM continues unabated with almost 400 million new customers in the last 12 months.
3G is the generic term used for the next generation of mobile communications systems. These have been created to support the effective delivery of a range of multimedia services. In addition, they provide more efficient systems for the over-the-air transmission of existing services, such as voice, text and data that are available today.
Developed by the global GSM community as its chosen path for 3G evolution, UMTS is one of the International Telecommunications Union's (ITU's) family of third-generation mobile communications systems. UMTS uses a W-CDMA air interface, which lead some to refer to the technology as simply W-CDMA, creating confusion in the marketplace.
To alleviate this confusion and to highlight the backward compatibility of the system with second generation GSM, the GSM Association now refers to the range of high-speed multimedia services that can be delivered to users via mobile networks using UMTS/W-CDMA systems such as 3GSM, rather than simply the air interface technology.
The global 3G Partnership Project (3GPP), a collaboration of telecommunications standards bodies, is the organisation through which much of the technical specifications are devised. The GSM Association is a market representation Partner of the 3GPP, as such it provides the 3GPP with market advice and a consensus view of market requirements from the operator community.
In summary, the GSM Association's vision of 3GSM is based on today's GSM standard, but evolved, extended and enhanced to include an additional radio air interface, better suited for high speed and multimedia data services. This system will enable users of current second generation GSM wireless networks to migrate easily to the new third generation services, with minimal disruption.
One of the most important characteristics of 3GSM is that it has been developed to be backward compatible with GSM systems, which have been deployed by 680 operators in more than 200 countries and territories. This interoperability of systems and services will ensure the continuation of the worldwide roaming experience users have enjoyed with GSM.
The next step in the GSM Association's roadmap was downlink performance improvement - High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA). HSDPA offers operators higher data transfer speeds and greater system capacity that, in turn, enhances their ability to provide mobile broadband multimedia services. HSDPA also taps into the generic benefits of GSM such as global roaming, seamless billing, network compatibility and huge economies of scale.
The 3G Evolution describes the seamless, compatible evolutionary path of enhancements to the existing 3GSM technology family. These will offer GSM operators higher data transfer speeds and greater system capacity that, in turn, will enhance their ability to provide mobile broadband multimedia services.
Following an evolutionary path within the GSM family of technologies delivers the generic benefits of GSM such as global roaming, seamless billing, network compatibility and huge economies of scale. The 3G evolutionary path has a series of well defined technology enhancements. The first to be realised is the downlink performance improvement - High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA).
HSDPA is a technology for improving the downlink performance of W-CDMA networks and is part of the evolutionary path of 3G enhancements to the GSM technology family. This well-defined path will result in higher data transfer speeds, improved spectral efficiency and greater system capacity for GSM operators. For users, HSDPA will unlock a world of mobile broadband multimedia services.
HSDPA is a software-based enhancement on Rel 99 of the UMTS standard that boosts the air interface capacity of W-CDMA networks by 2 times and delivers a 4-5 fold increase in downlink data speeds. It shortens round-trip time between network and terminals and reduces variance in downlink transmission delay. The combination of faster data rates - typically of the order of 1 Mbps and with theoretical peak rates of up to 14.4Mbps - along with the increased spectral efficiency should result in a lower cost per data bit transmitted. Alternative access technologies cannot offer the benefits integral to the 3GSM family and may, at best, be considered by operators as complementary to the 3GSM network.
Increased data rates provide the opportunity for operators to launch a wide range of new, added-value and media-rich applications and services. Business users can look forward to high-speed Internet access and rapid download of emails with attachments as well as access to wireless audio and video services. Consumer services could include rapid downloading of high-resolution digital images, DVD quality music downloads, full-motion video and advanced multi-player games.
Regular surveys from the GSMA confirm that there are over 200 HSDPA network commitments in over 95 countries/territories worldwide, including over 165 commercially launched HSDPA networks in 75 countries. Over 90% of commercial 3G/WCDMA networks have now activated HSDPA for mobile broadband services.
The GSMA recently confirmed a rapidly expanding range and availability of HSDPA-capable user devices (PC datacards, phones and embedded laptop modules), with over 500 devices from over 100 suppliers already launched in the market, including 225 handsets, 86 embedded notebooks, 43 USB modems and 38 datacards (source: www.gsmworld.com/hspa).
Furthermore, there are now an increasing number of routers on the market which will either take external HSDPA modems (USB modems, PC Cards) and allow users to share their connection to the HSDPA network either via an Ethernet switch or wirelessly using a Wi-Fi network.
NetComm is leading this wave of networking products with their 3G9W HSPA 7.2 Wireless Router, N3G001W, N3G002W, N3GS003, and N3G003W.
Enhancements to the uplink data speed is known as High Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA). HSUPA network technology was launched in 2007, with now over 30 HSPA networks enhanced with HSUPA. Jointly, downlink and uplink enhancements are referred to as HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) services. Increased downlink and uplink speeds will further enhance user experiences and increase the use of application and activities especially where data is shared between users, for example interactive multi-player games.
HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) is like having your home ADSL/Cable broadband experience delivered to your mobile phone, notebook or wireless HSPA router (see Telstra’s Turbo 7 Series Wireless Gateway or BigPond’s 7.2 Home Network Gateway).
HSPA is part of the GSM 3G network and is a software upgrade of the network infrastructure. To use the high speed variant, you need a mobile device that is HSPA-enabled like NetComm’s 3G9W HSPA 7.2 Wireless Router. Most new mobile phones and some notebooks are HSPA-enabled.
HSPA has a great legacy, coming from the GSM family, which delivers mobile communications to over a third of the world’s population. It is the latest technology to enable even faster data rates for mobile users available today. The evolution has seen familiar acronyms such as GPRS (the first packet technology giving around 128kb/s) to EDGE (an enhanced version offering around 240kb/s) and then the introduction of 3G networks increasing the data rate to 384kb/s.
The various enhancements on the HSPA route are as follows:
HSDPA – High Speed Downlink Packet Access – the ability to receive large files to your mobile device such as email attachments, PowerPoint presentations or web pages. HSDPA 3.6Mbps network can download a typical music file of around 3Mbytes in 8.3 seconds and a 5Mbyte video clip in 13.9 seconds. Speeds achieved by HSDPA top 14.4Mbps but most network operators provide speeds up to 3.6Mbps, with the rollout of 7.2Mbps quickly growing. HSDPA networks have been around for about 2 years and are deployed and offering mobile broadband right across the world. For a full list of HSPA networks, click here.
HSUPA – High Speed Uplink Packet Access – this is a further enhancement to increase the speed by which you communicate from your mobile device – for example, this enables you to upload videos to YouTube in seconds so that you can share the experience in real time. The upload speeds which were at 384kbps with HSDPA are now increased to a maximum of 5.7Mbps. NetComm will be releasing a range of products that support this enhanced uplink speed in the coming months.
HSUPA is available in a few countries today with 2008 really seeing this as common place.
HSPA Evolved – this is also known as HSPA+ is more focused on delivering data services enabling speeds of up to 42Mbps downstream and 11Mbps upstream. HSPA Evolved will be available in late 2008 early 2009.
All of these are acronyms for Mobile Broadband.
Common terms used by mobile network operators to market the service are: 3G+, NextGTM, 3G Broadband, 3.5G and many more.
Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) is one of the third-generation (3G) cell phone technologies, which is also being developed into a 4G technology. Currently, the most common form of UMTS uses W-CDMA as the underlying air interface. It is standardised by the 3GPP, and is the European answer to the ITU IMT-2000 requirements for 3G cellular radio systems.
To differentiate UMTS from competing network technologies, UMTS is sometimes marketed as 3GSM, emphasizing the combination of the 3G nature of the technology and the GSM standard which it was designed to succeed.
General Packet Radio Service; standardised as part of GSM Phase 2+, GPRS represents the first implementation of packet switching within GSM, which is a circuit switched technology. GPRS offers theoretical data speeds of up to 115kbps using multislot techniques. GPRS is an essential precursor for 3G as it introduces the packet switched core required for UMTS.
Further enhancements to GSM networks are provided by Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) technology. EDGE provides up to three times the data capacity of GPRS. Using EDGE, operators can handle three times more subscribers than GPRS; triple their data rate per subscriber, or add extra capacity to their voice communications. EDGE uses the same TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) frame structure, logic channel and 200kHz carrier bandwidth as today's GSM networks, which allows it to be overlaid directly onto an existing GSM network. For many existing GSM/GPRS networks, EDGE is a simple software-upgrade.
EDGE allows the delivery of advanced mobile services such as the downloading of video and music clips, full multimedia messaging, high-speed colour Internet access and e-mail on the move.
Due to the very small incremental cost of including EDGE capability in GSM network deployment, virtually all new GSM infrastructure deployments are also EDGE capable and nearly all new mid- to high-level GSM devices also include EDGE radio technology. The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) states that, as of May 2007, there were 223 commercial GSM/EDGE networks in 113 countries, from a total of 287 mobile network operator commitments in 142 countries.