3G (Third Generation) refers to the third version of a type of wireless communication that has been widely used commercially worldwide. The development and introduction of 3G in the late years of 2010 was definitely a major step towards the free-flow of information.[1] In theory, 3G services allow a user to have an internet speed of at least 7.2 Mbps (Megabits per second). This gives users the ability to download documents, images, and videos within a few minutes. In reality, the speed of 3G services can only reach up to a maximum of 3 Mbps. Because of the wide demand for a wireless service that lets individuals surf the net through their phones, mobile broadband was introduced by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) since it gave users an option to access online information when they are mobile.[2]

In order to be considered as 3G, a certain network needs to meet the different criteria set by technical standards when it comes to reliability and speed. 3G must also offer a peak data transfer of at least 200 Kb (Kilobits) per second. The first ever network that was considered 3G was actually introduced in the United States around the year 2003. As smartphones became increasingly popular, the demand for a wireless connection rose as consumers wanted a more accessible which actually drove the standard forward towards the development of the 4G network.


3G services usually work through a series of towers that pass signals towards other phone towers. These towers make sure that there is wide coverage of the signal while also being reliable, strong, and responsive when it comes to transmitting and receiving information. The strength of the signals does vary depending on the geographical location of the user; as the user is farther from the tower, the signal will weaken. Users also have to take into account that there will be some downtime in between services if a user strays too far from a tower since the signal will have to switch to another tower that is closer.[3]

Most modern phones and smartphones already have the built-in ability to connect to 3G networks. However, users need to be aware that older phones are not able to access 4G networks and can only access 3G networks. Newer phones have the ability to adapt backward – this means that they can access 3G networks.[4]

Commercial Use

Both 4G and 3G networks have their own advantages and disadvantages, but we will be focusing more on the advantages of getting a 3G phone:

  • If you live in a remote/rural area that does not provide any 4G connections - 4G phones are actually specifically designed to be backwards-compatible, this means that 4G phones are able to connect to towers that emit 3G signals if a 4G signal isn’t available.
  • Your phone activity doesn’t need a lot of data - If you are an individual who uses their phone mainly for SMS and calling purposes, rather than for watching videos or downloading files, then having a 3G data plan can help you save money. However, if you love surfing the internet and you need the data and information when it comes to your business and work environment, then 4G is a better connection. Most basic applications that need the internet such as GPS, E-mail, Weather updates, and Social networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) are able to function fine with 3G connections.

3G and 4G Comparison

In most cases, individuals do not know the difference between 4G and 3G. It is necessary to know the difference to be aware of the standards and restrictions that each type of connection will impose on its customers.[4:1]

  • 4G differs from 3G in a way that 4G is entirely IP based. This means that when it comes to data like video and voice data that needs to be sent and received, it uses internet protocols. Using this standard of transmitting data mitigates the risk of the data becoming scrambled while being delivered.

  • When it comes to its development history, the "G" stands for generation. This means that 4G stands for the fourth generation and 3G stands for the third generation. As a general rule, if you are on the same carrier that is being used, A 4G connection is much faster than that of a 3G connection. However, this isn’t really always the case, since a 3G network of a different carrier might be faster than the 4G connection of another carrier.

  • Another thing that users have to take into account is that once a new generation of wireless broadband becomes open to the public, this typically requires the Internet Service Provider to make some necessary hardware upgrades to their towers, and ultimately, to make upgrades to your phone as well. The upgrades that are being made towards your phone is to make sure that it will be able to send and receive information through the new infrastructure.

  • A 3G phone cannot simply communicate with a 4G network, but new generations of phones are specifically designed to be backward-compatible, this means that a phone that has a 4G connection will be able to communicate with a 3G and 2G network.

  1. https://3g.co.uk/guides/3g-what-is-3g-explained-in-simple-terms ↩︎

  2. https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-3g-3426465 ↩︎

  3. https://www.lifewire.com/how-fast-are-4g-and-3g-internet-speeds-3974470 ↩︎

  4. https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/3g-and-4g-whats-the-difference/ ↩︎ ↩︎