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3G refers to the third generation of developments in wireless technology, especially mobile communications. The third generation, as its name suggests, follows the first generation(1G) and second generation (2G) in wireless communications.

1G  The 1G period began inthe late 1970s and lasted through the 1980s. These systems featured the first truemobile phone systems, known at first as "cellular mobile radio telephone." These networks used analog voice signaling, and were little more sophisticated than therepeater networks used by amateur radio operators.

2G  The 2G phase began in the 1990sand much of this technology is still in use. The 2G cell phone features digitalvoice encoding. Examples include CDMA and GSM. Since its inception, 2Gtechnology has steadily improved, with increased bandwidth, packet routing, and theintroduction of multimedia.

3G includes capabilities and features such as:
• Enhanced multimedia (voice, data, video, and remote control).
• Usability on all popular modes

  (cellular telephone, e-mail, paging, fax, videoconferencing, and Web browsing).
• Broad bandwidth and high speed (upwards of 2 Mbps).
• Roaming capability throughout Europe, Japan, and North America

While 3G is generally considered applicable mainly to mobile wireless, itis also relevant to fixed wireless and portable wireless. A 3G systemshould be operational from any location on, or over, the earth's surface, including use in homes, businesses, government offices, medical establishments, the military, personal and commercial land vehicles, private and commercial watercraft and marine craft, private and commercial aircraft (except where

passenger use restrictions apply), portable (pedestrians, hikers, cyclists, campers), and space stations and spacecraft.

3G offers the potential to keep people connected at all times and in all places. Researchers, engineers, andmarketers are faced with the challenge of accurately predicting how much technology consumers will actually be willing to pay for. Another challenge faced by 3G services is competition from other high-speed wireless technologies, especially mobile WiMAX, and ability to roam between different kinds of wireless networks.

The current status of mobile wireless communications, as of June 2006, is a mix of 2nd and 3rd generation technologies.

What is 3G?
The telecommunications world is continuing to change , and 3G technology represents the next stage in mobile communications. 3G is an evolution in terms

of services and data speeds from second generation (2G) mobile networks.

There are now more than 65 million mobile phones in use in the UK. Today's mobile customers have already demonstrated a demand for"non-voice" and other new services. On average, 99 million text messages are sent every day across the UK* . Proof of customer demand has also been indicated by the use of increased data services, such as instant e-mail and picture messaging, on 2G systems with GPRS (General Packet Radio Services).

3G broadband mobile communications makes access to sophisticated workplace technology inside your phone (3G handset compatibility required) even faster, making working life more flexible and developing still further the "virtual office" complete with emails, video conferencing and high speed access to services without the daily commute.

How does 3G work?
3G-enabled devices  including phones and laptops  work by sending and receiving radio signals to and from base stations (sometimes known as ˉmastsˇ). Base stations link individual phones into the rest of the mobile and landline networks.

Base stations are low power radio transmitters and need to be located in the areas they are intended to serve. They provide coverage to a geographical area known as a cell. These cells need to overlap to enable seamless coverage and to ensure a user does not lose connection to the network when on the move.

Radio waves used in mobile telecommunications form part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Radio waves used to deliver 3G services are transmitted at a slightly higher frequency than for 2G and travel a shorter distance. As a result the coverage area or cell size for a 3G base station is smaller than for a 2G site. Furthermore, as user demand increases in a particular cell, the size of that cell shrinks making overlap even more essential.

Due to the advanced technology, the location of cell sites is even more critical with 3G networks to avoid interference between adjacent cells.

Will 3G mean more masts?
The cell sizes for 3G networks are smaller than for 2G and so more base stations are required to cover the same area. In line with planning guidance, wherever possible, operators seek to upgrade their existing base stations or share sites used by other operators. At the end of 2006 there were 49,000 base station sites in the UK. Additional mobile phone base stations will need to be built to support 3G services. It is possible that the number of base station sites will rise to 51,000 by the end of 2007 to meet licence requirements, but the final number will depend on customer use. New installations that require planning consent will be subject to the appropriate planning process.