Wednesday, May 5, 2010

About 3G Mobile Phones

3G Mobile Phones
The third-generation mobile phone network is billed as a giant leap forward for mobile phone technology, with more services and features on offer than ever before. Handsets are now portable multimedia messaging and playback devices that can send and receive e-mail, grab content from the Internet without waiting and have personalised information and entertainment services delivered right to the hand, ear and eye of the user.
There are now a number of 3G networks operating in Australia, and despite a slow uptake when the services were originally released, the growth of 3G networks is steady. Mobile companies see a big (read: lucrative) future in multimedia and Internet content for users hungry for faster, feature-rich mobile services ― so expect to see more and more services and competitive pricing bundles as we move forward.
Techs & Specs
The 3G mobile phone network uses a different frequency band than its predecessors to deliver increased data transfer rates. The 3G network uses the 2100MHz frequency, while the existing 2G network operates at the 900MHz frequency band (GSM) and 800MHz (CDMA). This high-speed data capacity enables more content to be sent to and from mobile handsets through calls, messaging and Internet-based content. For example, 3G phones can be used for video phone calls, video message bank, Internet and e-mail, real-time interactive gaming and media streaming, such as news, weather and dedicated TV shows.
The original analogue network was the first-generation cellular mobile phone network which was operational in the 1980s when handsets resembled 'bricks' rather than the tiny, feature-packed devices they've become today. The next major development was the digital cellular mobile phone network that started to offer data as well as voice services and was considered the second-generation mobile network. The 2G network has a data rate of between 9.6Kbps and 14.4Kbps and the 2.5G network boosted rates to between 56Kbps and 144Kbps. The 3G network can deliver data rates up to 2.4Mbps although High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) is a 3G technology that allows for higher data transfer speeds. Current HSDPA in Australia now supports 1.8Mbps or 3.6Mbps in downlink. Speeds of up to 14.4Mbps and beyond are planned for the future. But the real future is 4G that will deliver data transfer rates of between 20 and 40Mbps, comparable with ADSL and cable Internet transfer speeds. However, the 4G network is only in development and is still some time away from trials and commercial release of services.
In Australia, the 3G network uses the UMTS standard, which is built on the GSM network and all four operators - Vodafone, Telstra, 3 Mobile and Optus - use this standard. The other 3G standard is CDMA2000, which has a number of variations, but only Telstra has a version for mobile broadband packages. (See Networks & Data Rate box below for speeds and the Glossary for technical terms related to 3G networks.) Theoretically, any UMTS 3G-compatible phone will work on the UMTS network with any operator, although limitations or restrictions may be imposed by the operators as the service develops. But the phone companies are offering a selection of handsets with plans, which limits choice but avoids compatibility issues.

Networks & Data Rate

1GAnalog9.6Kbps to 14.4KbpsVoice Only
2GGSM/CDMA9.6Kbps to 14.4KbpsVoice & Data
2.5GGPRS/EDGE56Kbps to 144KbpsVoice & Data
3GUMTS384Kbps up to 2MbpsVoice & Data
3GWCDMA2Mbps, 384Kbps (wide access)Voice & Data
3GCDMA2000144KbpsVoice & Data
3GCDMA EV-DO2.4MbpsVoice & Data
4G20 - 40Mbps (theoretical)Voice & Data
In Australia, the 3G network has been up and running for a number of years with companies offering services, some with their own network infrastructure and some sharing a network. Hutchison - which goes under the marketing name of 3 Mobile - Telstra, Vodafone and Optus all offer 3G phone services. Hutchison was the first to launch its 3G service in Australia back in 2003. It built its own network and covers around 96 per cent of the population (note: this is population density not geographical) . In 2007, 3 Mobile launched their 3.6Mbps HSDPA network.
Telstra, which shares its 3G network with Hutchison, launched its service in 2004. Not to be left out, Vodafone and Optus banded together to build their own 3G network. Optus launched a business 3G offering in early 2005 and has continued its rollout into the consumer market. In May 2007, Optus began extending its existing 3G HSDPA coverage to 96 per cent of the Australian population and plans to continue over a three-year period.
Vodafone launched its 3G service in late 2005 with a range of services and plans. They activated their HSDPA coverage in small specialist areas of Sydney and Melbourne in late 2006, with speeds of up to 1.8Mbps. This followed further expansion of their HSDPA network in 2007 to more cities including Canberra, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Adelaide and Perth. NSW's Central Coast is expected to follow in September 2007.
In late 2006, Telstra launched its new "Next G" 3G network, promising real world speeds of between 550Kbps and 1.5Mbps to customers nationwide. The Next G network uses High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), with theoretical maximum download speeds of 3.6Mbps. Telstra planned to provide out 14.4Mbit access in 2007, but later revealed that no 14.4Mbps devices will be available for its Next G network, which currently has more than one million subscribers. By 2009, Telstra expects the Next G network to be upgraded to handle speeds of up to 40Mbps.
The 3G network brings the world of the Internet to a mobile phone with the addition of enhanced messaging and multimedia functions. Each mobile company offers specially chosen TV, music, multimedia and Internet content, such as news, sport and weather.
Video Talk - With 3G, standard phone features are enhanced with video calls, video message bank, video ring tunes and multimedia messaging. Users can make video calls to other users with a compatible handset and network. It's also possible to leave video messages and add images to contacts so their image appears when they're calling. It is also possible to send video messages to compatible phones as an MMS or e-mail. For example, Hutchison offers videotalk, a video phone call from the handset to a PC with a Web camera using Microsoft NetMeeting over broadband Internet connection.
Internet & E-mail - 3G handsets can send and receive e-mail as well as browse the Internet. The Telstra offering allows users to access BigPond directly to the handset in-box. Hutchison and Vodafone offer e-mail access through a dedicated e-mail address that sends and receives messages directly to the in-box. Hutchison also provides for e-mail forwarding for POP3 accounts from Yahoo!, Hotmail, BigPond and iPrimus.
 Multimedia - The enhanced data transfer rates of 3G means that multimedia and gaming has come alive. Handsets can be used to play back music files, movie trailers, live TV and a vast array of multimedia files available through the Internet. Handsets play a variety of music files (MP3, AAC, AAC+) and video formats, including MP4, as well as playing polyphonic ringtones and loading and viewing digital photos online. Games can be downloaded straight to the handset and come with 3D graphics and enhanced sound and some can even be played in multiplayer format in real-time.
Personalised Content - There is also specialised content available on each network, depending on what licence and sharing agreements the mobile carriers have made with content providers, such as publishing, TV or internet providers. For example, Hutchison in the past offered Big Brother content, while Telstra has offered video clips from Australian Idol and the ABC. Vodafone offers financial market information and satellite radar images with the weather. The other content services that are on offer with 3G include interactive communities, group chatting, dating, movie trailers, horoscopes, weather and adult content.
Plans & Pricing
Like all other mobile accounts, the range of plans and pricing varies a great deal with 3G services. Telstra offers a range of 3G mobile packages starting at $49 that include voice calls, message bank and text messaging. Internet and e-mail bundles start at $5 per month for 1MB download of data and go as high as $29 per month for 70MB of data, with additional charges above this cap.
Due to its long market presence, the 3 Mobile is the most advanced with a range of packages of both prepaid (a rarity for 3G) and post-pay plans for the service. Of the post-pay plans, the cheapest starts at $29 and includes voice calls and voicemail with additional charges for SMS and MMS. In terms of the 3G services, national video calls cost 35c per 30 seconds with a 25c flag fall fee. E-mail is free to receive but costs 20c to send. Casual Internet is charged at 0.4c per KB with bundles and special offers for high-use Internet access. The top-of-the-line package is $149, although the same rates for video calls, e-mail and casual Internet access apply across all the plans. Prices for Planet 3 (its 3G content portal) vary according to the type of service, which can include news, sport, weather, event guides, music and adult content.
The Vodafone 3G offering, known as Vodafone Live!, runs through a dedicated portal and includes Internet, e-mail, picture messaging, polyphonic ringtones as well as news video downloads and "mobisodes", which are made-for-mobile TV shows. Vodafone also offers pay-per-download music files. The costs range from 75c for video messaging, 25c for e-mail to $3 per month for a full-category news subscription service. Vodafone offers their 3G services across a range of handsets.
 Optus launched its 3G service in 2005 with a business package offering in Canberra. At the time, the company emphasised the high-speed data download service for business and government for files and applications. The 3G service is continuing to roll out and now covers Sydney, Melbourne, Geelong, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. The Optus capped voice plans range from $49 to $89 per month with extra fees applicable to content specific packages such as its Mobile IM service.
For Telstra's Next G network, packages start from $52 per month and this includes a $40 per month voice plan, and $12 for access to 12 channels of Foxtel for a maximum of 200 minutes. Extra costs include 25 cents for each local text message, and data charges, which are on a pay as you use basis. The cost of accessing the Internet can also be set at a $5, $8 or $29 monthly fees depending on the amount of data users intend to access.
Most mobile phone companies have a range of handsets to suit different users and different budgets. Choices include Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Samsung, LG and Palm. The phones can be purchased outright or with a plan from a particular carrier. To make the most of the 3G content on offer, it's important to put some time into researching particular handsets and their features. For example, a good size screen with at least 260K colours and resolution of at least 240x320 pixels will make the most of video calls and music clips.
 A phone with sufficient memory and a storage card slot is necessary to maximise the amount of data and multimedia content that can be stored and played back. Consider 16MB of onboard memory a minimum with a card slot that is expandable up to at least 1GB. And, of course, a camera, preferably at least 2-megapixel, is a worthwhile inclusion for multimedia messaging with photos and video. It's also important that the 3G handset play back music in a range of formats, such as MP3, AMR and AAC. The keyboard is also vital with all the messaging and browsing, so select a phone with multi-press alphanumerical keyboard that's big enough for two-finger operation for speed and ease of input.
If wireless connectivity is important, look out for Bluetooth compatible models (most new handsets are) for hands-free dialling and wireless headsets. Battery life should start at no less than three hours talk time. The cost of a 3G phone will range from about $299 for a basic model to $1399 for a smartphone model with maximum storage capacity and features.
3G Data Cards
3G mobile data cards provide online access for notebooks. They allow users to freely access e-mail, the Internet and business applications without searching for landline connections or wireless hotspots. These data cards slide into a notebook's PC or ExpressCard slot and use the 3G network to connect, The coverage of a 3G card is only as good as its network. Telstra, 3, Vodafone and Optus all offer 3G data cards in Australia, with different plans depending on usage patterns and download limits.
CDMA: Code Division Multiple Access
A technology for encoding a digital signal over the wireless telephone transmission service, which allows multiple users access to the network at the one time.
CDMA2000 or 1XRTT (Radio Transmission Technology) 
Another version of CDMA that uses a single radio channel to provide data rates up to 144Kbps.
GSM: Global System for Multiple Communications
The world's most widely used digital mobile phone network.
HSDPA: High Speed Download Packet Access
A 3G technology that allows for higher data transfer speeds over a mobile network.
EDGE: Enhanced Data rate for GSM Evolution
A modulation scheme to increase data rates in existing GSM networks.
EVDO: Evolution Data Only or Evolution Data Optimised
An evolution of the CDMA mobile network allowing for increased data rates.
TDD: Time Division Duplex 
Uses a combination of time division and code division multiple access for the mobile phone network.
TDM: Time Division Multiplexing
The combination of numerous signals for transmission of a single communications channel or line with each signal broken into different segments of short duration.
TDCDMA: Time Division CDMA 
TDMA: Time Division Multiple Access
A technology for delivering digital mobile services by dividing radio frequency into time slots and then allocating a slot to each call. A single frequency can support multiple, simultaneous data channels.
TD-SCDMA: Time Division Synchronous CDMA
Uses the TDD to transmit uplink and downlink traffic in the same frame in different time slots.
UMTS: Universal Mobile Telecommunications System
This is a 3G packet-based transmission of text, voice, video and multimedia data rates higher than 2Mbps.
UTRA: Universal Terrestrial Radio Access
A standard for 3G mobile communications where the radio access components are based on WCDMA and TDCDMA access methods.
VHE: Virtual Home Environment
VHE is part of the IMT-2000/WCDMA and UMTS mobile phone network. With VHE, a user can take their home network on the road by emulating the same access and services they have within their fixed environment.
WCDMA: Wideband Code Division Multiple Access 
A 3G technology that increases data transmission by using code division (CDMA) rather than time division (TDMA) technology