Third-generation, or 3G, technology is a wireless network technology that is commonly utilised in smart phones like iPhones and Blackberries. While its predecessor, second-generation (2G) technology, was formulated around voice applications (like talking, call-waiting and voicemail), 3G technology puts a strong emphasis on Internet and multimedia services, such as web browsing, video conferencing and downloading music. And while there are several advantages to 3G, the technology also comes with its disadvantages.
High bandwith---the measure of transmission capacity---is one of the selling points of 3G. This allows you quick and easy access to all of your favourite online multimedia and Internet tools, just like you were at home on a computer. You can pay bills, book dinner reservations, update social networking pages and check e-mails, all on-the-go. While the maximum bandwidth for a stationary 3G device---according to Silicon Press---is 2.05 megabytes (MB), when you are moving slowly (such as walking), this drops to 384 kilobytes (KB). When you and your device are moving at high speeds (such as in a car), the maximum bandwidth drops to 128 KB. However, Silicon Press notes that this is still 10 times faster than the maximum bandwidth of moving 2G devices.
Another advantage of 3G technology is that it can utilise packet-based Internet protocol connectivity. This means your mobile device will always be online and ready for Internet access. However, you will not actually pay for the connection until you start sending or receiving data packets, such as sending an e-mail or looking at a webpage. Some 3G devices are also designed to automatically pick up the closest, free-to-access Wi-Fi signals, in which case, you won't have to pay anything for Internet.
To support 3G technology, updates need to be made to the current cellular infrastructure. According to 3G Internet, this means installing new 3G equipment at---ideally---every current cellular base station and acquiring new frequencies for 3G transmissions. Both of these undertakings are extremely expensive and could take a long time to complete fully. In addition, in order to utilise all of the new features 3G technology has to offer, customers must purchase 3G-compatilible handsets, which are generally more expensive than their 2G counterparts.
In addition to being more expensive, 3G handsets also require more power than most 2G models. According to Silicon Press, this extra power requirement can translate to larger batteries, shortage usage periods between recharging and more bulky handsets overall.