3g is an acronym signifying third-generation mobile phone technology. Based upon higher network bandwidth than the first 2g digital cellular phones, 3g-capable telephones and networks will support video calls, high speed WWW access, multimedia sharing, and instant messaging applications. Enhanced network features include TV or live video streaming, online gaming, and GPS-style location services. Additionally, standard voice calls over a 3g network are clearer, faster-connecting, and less battery-draining than 2g and analogue cellular networks. All 3g-enabled telephones are backwards compatible with 2g network technology, and 3g networks are required to support voice and SMS service to 2g phones. Thus, current 2g handset owners will not be forced to upgrade their phones, and 3g phone owners who enter 2g coverage zones will still have voice reception.
3g telephone networks support both circuit-switch and packet-switch data transfer, similar to GPRS networks. Regular voice calls, video calls and SMS text messaging are CS based and are backwards compatible with 2g handsets and networks. Internet access and other high-bandwidth applications are PS based, with the application layer separate from the data transfer protocol layer. Thus, the underlying network does not need to know what type of data is being transmitted, and in standard 3g implementations there is no application priority. However, 3g provides may monitor, filter, and prioritize selected packets, thus increasing bandwidth for media streams and restricting services such as VOIP and P2P.
Although 3g technology offers cost benefits for both consumers and providers alike, the high initial costs of deploying such systems has hampered the spread of 3g implementation. In some areas, existing infrastructure such as antennae and computer networks must be completely replaced. State licensing fees for additional broadcast frequencies add another, non-technical expense to 3g adoption in many countries. Japanese state sponsorship has removed the financial barriers to 3g implementation by lowering licensing fees and subsidising equipment renovation. Thus, Japan was the first country to see 3g networks deployed across her cites.
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