What is 3G?

Staying connected on our mobile devices has become an integral part of our daily lives. Checking work and personal emails, browsing social media, keeping up with news and events, or watching videos on the go are so commonplace that we forget this is a recent phenomenon.

It was 3G technology that paved the way for the smartphones and tablets that we use today to stay connected. 3G provides a stable and relatively fast mobile connection.

In this article, we explore the question of “what is a 3G network“ and what 3G means to both consumers and enterprises around the world.

What is a 3G Network?

The number three in the name of 3G does a pretty good job of answering this question. Basically, it’s the third generation of access technology that allows connecting mobile phones to the internet (wherever they may be).

Each new generation has new frequency bands and higher data transmission rates.

The first generation came out in the 1980s. Remember car phones? First generation networking was used on those bulky phones that were usually installed in cars since they were too large to carry comfortably. Sometimes that big briefcase an office worker was carrying around wasn’t full of important documents, but instead he was lugging around a huge “mobile” phone!

The second generation network, which became available in the ‘90s, enabled the use of text messaging. This important and revolutionary upgrade also provided a more stable connection and paved the way for the 3G and 4G technologies that have come since.

3G connection-based networks were introduced in 2001, marking the start of widespread use of the internet on mobile phones. Not long after, smartphones were introduced, offering all of the possibilities of a computer in the palm of your hand.

But what is 3G technology, and how does it work?

3G data technology uses a network of phone towers to pass signals, ensuring a stable and relatively fast connection over long distances. The tower nearest to the user’s mobile phone passes data to it. While it may not sound complex, 3G technology was revolutionary at the time it was released.

Now we enjoy more advanced 4G technology which itself is soon to be eclipsed by robust 5G networks. Many people still use 3G when 4G is unavailable, so the technology still holds up even after almost two decades of use. On your own mobile phone, you might have noticed your connection changing from 4G to 3G depending on which connection is more readily available at a given location.

How Fast is 3G?

3G offers speeds that are several times faster or higher than any of its predecessors, including the short-lived 2.5G network which offered internet connectivity. 3G speeds are high enough to allow for audio and video streaming. They’ve been shown to be perfectly adequate for remote collaboration tools, such as Unified Communications, while offering clear and responsive voice clarity across the line.

But what specific speeds does 3G offer? Keep in mind that specific speeds are determined by the tower networks and individual capabilities of the provider. According to some estimates, 3G offers a real-world maximum speed of 7.2 Mbps for downloads and 2 Mbps for uploads.

While today these numbers may not seem impressive, especially compared to 4G or 5G networks, sometimes 4G technology simply is not available. In these cases, 3G is the default option.

In most instances, 3G is more than capable of providing a stable network connection for tasks including calls, web browsing, and video and audio streaming.

Why is 3G Important?

There are at least three reasons by 3G is still relevant today – even with the wide-spread use of 4G and rapidly emerging use of 5G networks.

For one, 3G remains the most widely used internet on the planet, as it covers a staggering 87% of the populated areas (PDF).

Second, stability is often more important than internet speed. When 4G network connectivity is limited or unreliable, users benefit from using a stable 3G network connection. The stability enables browsing and performing online tasks at an adequate pace instead of trying to maintain a 4G connection.

Third, 3G can make more sense from an efficiency standpoint. 3G tends to use less energy, especially if one is not constantly switching between 3G and 4G due to connectivity fluctuations. If conserving battery life of your device is important - for instance, in an emergency situation - switching a connection to 3G can be optimal.

Internet Connectivity For Your Business

To learn more about how your business could use a 3G or 4G network via wireless business broadband, Fusion Connect consultants are ready to help.

We offer comprehensive networking services for small, mid-size and enterprise-level companies. We can help you figure out the best way to update your technological infrastructure. Contact us today!

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