Everything About 3G Network and 3G Phones

In the previous article, we discussed  2G network; the network generation that introduced the transmission of voice signals in digital form to wireless communication technology. Along with that, 2G introduced the transmission of multimedia data, something that was not possible with 1G network.

Despite these advancements, 2G had many limitation, like slow data speeds, limited network coverage, and security vulnerabilities.

Fortunately, 3G network addressed these limitations by providing a more advanced mobile network with faster data transfer  & improved connectivity.

In this article, we will cover everything about 3G technology, starting with the evolution of the 3G network and then extending to some of the limitations of the 3G network.

What is a 3G network?

3G network is a network generation developed by 3GPP using the International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT-2000) standard to facilitate efficient wireless mobile telecommunications.

3G allows for the transmission of voice, text, and multimedia data, including video calling, video streaming, and mobile internet access.

Evolution of the 3G Network

3G network was first introduced in 2001 as an improvement over the 2G network. It uses the International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT-2000) standard to provide faster data transfer rates, higher bandwidth, and better network reliability than 2G technology.

The data speeds of early 3G networks varied depending on the technology and network provider. As specified by  International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the minimum data rate for 3G was 144 kbps (kilobits per second) for mobile devices moving at high speeds, and 384 kbps for devices in stationary.

Early 3G networks were based on Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) and CDMA2000 technologies. This network generation paved the way for new applications and services such as video calling, video streaming, and mobile internet access, which were not possible with 2G networks.

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High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA), also referred to as 3.5G, was developed in 2008 as an improvement to the earlier 3G networks. It was developed using advanced modulation and coding techniques and wider channel bandwidths. HSPA improved the data transfer speed to up to 14 Mbps for downloads and 5.7 Mbps for uploads, which is higher than what was obtainable with early 3G.


HSPA+ (Evolved High-Speed Packet Access), often referred to as 3.75G, is an improved version of HSPA. HSPA+ improved the data transfer rates, network capacity, and efficiency of normal HSPA.

HSPA+ supports peak data transfer rates of 42 Mbps for downloads and 22 Mbps for uploads, which is way higher than what was achievable with normal HSPA.

3g Network Architecture

A network architecture is an infrastructure that helps deliver services between two ends (the sender and the receiver).

The 3G network architecture comprises four major parts: user equipment (UE), node B, radio network controller (RNC), and core network (CN).

3G network architecture

User Equipment(UE)

User equipment is the equipment that we use to connect to a network, like mobile phones and SIM cards. Mobile phones are used for the transmission of radio waves from the sender to the receiver, while SIM cards help register user on a particular network on which he want to access services. The users’ equipment is connected to the network with the help of an air interface between the user and Node B.

Node B

Node B is recognized as the transmitter or receiver. Node B helps to establish a connection between the user and the network. If a user wants to receive a signal from the network, Node B will act as a transmitter. Also, if the user wants to send a signal to the network, Node B will act as a receiver.

Aside from acting as a transmitter or receiver, Node B is also used to implement the radio access technology using WCDMA.

Radio Access Network (RAN)

RAN is responsible for the management of the radio resources (transmission between Node B and UE) by performing various tasks such as handover, cell selection, and power control.

RNC is considered a single access point for UTRAN in the core network. It’s connected to a single MSC or VLR to route circuit-switched traffic and to a single SGSN to route packet-switched traffic.

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Core Network (CN)

Core Network (CN) makes use of both PS (packet switching) and CS (circuit switching) technologies to provide different types of services to mobile users.

Packet Switching (PS): PS technology is used for data-oriented services such as mobile internet, email, and multimedia messaging. In PS, data is divided into packets and transmitted over the network to its destination. The CN uses the GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and the Enhanced GPRS (EGPRS) to provide PS services. GPRS allows for higher data transfer rates and the ability to connect to external networks, while EGPRS provides even higher data transfer rates.

Circuit Switching (CS): CS technology is used for voice-oriented services such as traditional voice calls and video calls. In CS, a dedicated circuit is established between the two communicating parties for the duration of the call. The CN uses the Circuit-Switched Fallback (CSFB) mechanism to provide CS services. When a user initiates a voice call, the mobile device switches from the PS network to the CS network, and a dedicated circuit is established for the call.

The CN integrates both PS and CS technologies through the use of several functional entities, such as the Mobile Switching Center (MSC), Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN), and Serving GPRS Support Node (SGSN).

MSC is responsible for handling voice calls and establishing circuit-switched connections, while GGSN and SGSN are responsible for handling data traffic and establishing packet-switched connections.

Features of 3G network

3G technologies brought many advancements to the wireless tele-communications industry. Some of them include;

  1. Speed of up to 2 Mbps
  2. High bandwidth and increased data transfer rates
  3. Sending and receiving bulk email messages.
  4. Large capacities and broadband capabilities
  5. 3G offers greater security features.
  6. 3G network enhanced video calls, video conferences, weather updates, accessing traffic, etc.
  7. 3G has a common spectrum worldwide.

Third Generation Mobile Phones (3G Phones)

3G phones are phones that use 3G network technology to provide high-speed data transfer rates, advanced multimedia capabilities, and improved call quality.

3G phones are the first mobile phones to offer video calling, mobile internet access, and multimedia messaging, which were the main innovations brought by the third-generation network.


BlackBerry Bold 9000

image source; phonearena.com

The 3G network technology supports data transfer rates of up to several megabits per second, which allows users to browse the internet, stream videos, make video calls, and download files at high speeds.

3G phones also offer improved call quality compared to previous generations of mobile phones. With 3G technology, voice calls are transmitted over a digital network, which reduces background noise and provides clearer sound quality. it also support advanced features such as conference calling and call waiting, which enhance the user experience.

ALSO READ:  Everything About Second Generation Networks

Limitations of 3G network

While 3G networks provided significant improvements over 2G, they also had several limitations. Here are some of the key limitations of 3G networks:

  1. It has limited coverage in remote locations.
  2. Capacity: 3G networks had limited capacity for high-bandwidth applications such as video streaming.
  3. Battery life: 3G phones require more power to operate than their predecessors, which could result in shorter battery life.
  4. Cost: 3G networks require a significant investment in infrastructure, which results in higher costs for service providers.
  5. Security: 3G networks had limited security features, which made them vulnerable to hacking and other security threats.
  6. Interference: 3G networks could be affected by interference from other devices or environmental factors, which could result in slower data transfer speeds and lower call quality.



With what we have covered in this post, you have seen the improvements the 3G network brought to wireless communication technology; it increased the speed of transmission of signals, enabling video calls, video conferences, weather updates, and accessing traffic.
In the next post, we will explore 4G networks and 4G phones

. We invite you to check it out.

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