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This is slightly on topic for this thread and it also addresses previous threads on this board, what is 3g.

I thought for fun I would email the standards bodies for a definition of 3g, as I do ;-).

Of all the standard bodies only the ITU replied.

My email was

To whom it may concern

I am a private investor who's currently researching the wireless sector, more specifically third generation.

My question is,

What is considered 3g services?

For example we have NTT Docomo in Japan rolling out wcdma this year in new spectrum (set aside for 3g) but only at an initial speed of 64kbps. Is this considered 3g?

We also have cdma2000 1x, which is 144-150 kbps but is in current spectrum. It meets the speed criteria from the ITU standards but is not on spectrum set aside for 3g. Is this 3g?

Your help in this matter is greatly appreciated.

Thanks in Advance

Their reply

Dear Mr ____,

Let me first apologize for the delay in responding due to my absence from Geneva. IMT third-generation systems will mainly be characterized by a very high bit rate, enhanced communications and multimedia capability.

The ITU has defined the 3rd generation mobile systems in its IMT-2000 Recommendations. In selecting the radio interfaces for 3G, the ITU took into account all of the following factors:
-very high bit rates
-symmetrical and asymmetrical data transmission
-circuit-switched and packet-switched services, such as Internet Protocol (IP) traffic and real-time video
-good voice quality (comparable to wire-line quality)
-greater capacity and improved spectrum efficiency
-several simultaneous services to end-users and terminals, for multimedia services
-a seamless incorporation of second-generation cellular systems, in order not to have any discontinuity between the second- and the third-generation systems
-global, i.e. international roaming, between different operational environments

Focusing on data rate alone is not per se very meaningful. First, it is important to understand that 144 kbit/s represents the peak rate. During field tests, an average measure is usually taken over a period of time and the results are therefore below the peak rate. It is therefore very difficult to judge from reported data alone unless the measurement method and significance of the measure taken is also precisely known.

In addition, actual throughput depends on the type of traffic (symmetric/assymetric). The technology itself is capable of providing very high data rates but business the higher the data rate, the lower the number of simultaneous calls (customers) that can be supported.

The WCDMA and cdma2000 radio interfaces have been included in the IMT-2000 Recommendations and are therefore 3G systems.


F. Lambert
Francine Lambert
Head, Corporate Communication
International Telecommunication Union
Place des Nations
1211 Geneva 20
Tel: +41 22 730 5969/+41 79 217 3506
Fax: +41 22 730 5939

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