A Concise History of The 3G Technology

With the increase in the use of mobile phones with 2G technology, there came an increased demand for more data services. It became apparent that the network capabilities of the prevalent 2G system were not enough to handle the growing need for internet access. People now wanted to do more, and it was clear that new technology was needed to satisfy the needs of the customers.  Thus, the telecom industry innovated and brought forth the next generation of technology- the 3G network.

The appearance of the 2G network was an essential stage in the revolution of the communication industry. Let’s remember when and where it began: The History of 2G

Simply put, 3G brought with itself phenomenally faster internet connectivity via mobile devices. It allowed users to video call while on the move. Chatting with a friend while commuting or showing that beautiful sunset to their loved one sitting thousands of miles away, in real-time, became a reality with 3G. What more, users could now access emails, send images and videos through their mobile devices as fast as they could via their desktops. 

In other words, 3G brought with itself a revolution in the world of telecommunications.

How 3G Evolved

Research and development for the 3G technology started in the early 1980s and was carried out by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The standards and specifications for the technology were developed for 15 years, and the technical specifications were therein released to the public as IMT-2000. 3G was allocated the telecommunication spectrum ranging between 400 MHz to 3 GHz, and the standards were widely accepted by both government and telecom companies alike.

Initially, 3G technology was developed as a common standard to be applicable across Europe. Thirteen countries had collaborated and shared knowledge to make this innovation a success. 

Launch of 3G

The first global pre-commercial launch of the 3G network was in Japan by NTT Docomo in 1998, and it was branded as FOMA. The first commercial launch of the technology happened on October 1, 2001- also by NTT Docomo in Japan. 

However, the technology saw a slow pace of adoption post the initial launch. This can be attributed to several factors, such as the following-

  • Concerns about the lack of network security.
  • The high deployment cost.
  • The necessity for newer tower installation as the previous 1G towers were meant to operate analog networks.
  • Excess traffic handling capacity than was necessary.

But then the 2G network took force and brought forth some necessary changes like improved call clarity, more traffic volume, reduced power requirements, and sleeker handsets. This was the first paving stone for 3G adoption.

The Internet Boom

What finally lead to the global adoption of 3G technology was the internet boom of 1998. The demand for mobile internet skyrocketed during this time, and the market accepted 3G. The data rates in 3G, with CDMA2000 or WCDMA, were as high as 2 Mbps for a walking or stationary user and up to 384 Kbps for a device in a moving vehicle. This allowed mobile phone users to video call and high-speed access internet, even on the move.

Global Adoption

Eventually, 3G technology began to be widely adopted and implemented across various nations globally. Japan was the first country to implement a widespread 3G network system. Nepal was the first country in south-east Asia to implement 3G. Eventually, the 3G network was adopted by telecom companies across countries in Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Africa.

By 2007, according to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), 190 3G telecom networks were operational across 40 countries, and 154 HSDPA networks were operational in 71 countries.

Improved Features of 3G

  • Higher data rates- up to 2 Mbps with CDMA2000 or WCDMA. 28 Mbps with HSPA+
  • It allows users to share a band of frequencies through the CDMA channel access method- thus improving spectrum usage efficiency.
  • It uses packet-switching for data transmission, thus enabling higher speeds.
  • Enhanced capacity of the radio link through the introduction of the Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) system. 

The Path Forward

In the mid-2000s, an evolved 3G system began to be researched and implemented. This was the HSDPA or High-Speed Downlink Packet Access. It enhanced the existing 3G technology to the High-Speed Packet Access category and came up with the newer versions like 3.5G, 3G+, and Turbo 3G. These versions allowed higher data rates and capacity and paved the way for the next generation of 4G technologies.

 At Intraway, we continuously strive to provide our valued customers with viable telecom solutions that help scale up their business while delivering quality customer experiences to millions. At present, we operate across 22 countries on three continents and have over 55 million devices deployed globally.

Contact us today to learn more about our offerings and how we can help you with your specific needs.

The appearance of the 2G network was an essential stage in the revolution of the communication industry. Let’s remember when and where it began: The History of 2G

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