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What Is 3G Internet?

Learn what 3G is from computer expert Yoav Erez in this Howcast video about wireless network technology.

Transcript

So, I'm sure you guys have seen a lot of ads on TV and billboards everywhere advertising 3G and 4G. But what is actually 3G?

So, when we say 3G, what we're talking about is basically the Third Generation of wireless communication. When cellphones first started, all we had was basically analog signals going back and forth, which was just voice and radio signals. After that, the Second Generation was the first to really bring digital into the picture, and send bits and packets of data across the network. Which worked, but it was very, very slow. And then, on came 3G, which gave us slightly better speed.

So, there are basically many, many different kinds of 3G. The main two are GSM and CDMA. GSM is the one that companies like AT&T and T-Mobile use, and it basically means that on your device, you will have a little SIM card that you put in, and it will tell your phone its identity on the network. And it'll tell your cellular company where your phone is, and how to talk to it. CDMA doesn't use SIM cards. CDMA just uses something called an IMEI number, which is like a serial number for the phone on the network. It basically works the same way. It's how the cellphone company people locate your phone and talk to it.

Now, 3G is all about speed. So when we say 3G, we're talking about speeds that are roughly ten, 20, sometimes even 30 kilobytes per second, depending on your, you know, movement, place, how good your reception is. In a real life situation, it means that you can download a song in about two or three minutes per song, which is pretty good. It's definitely a lot more doable than 2G, which was at least ten times slower than that.

With 3G, we finally get usable Internet connections. That means we can download data, pictures, and even stream music online. With 3G, we you something like ten, 20, even 30 kilobytes per second sometime, depending on your location, and it means you can basically download a full song in about two to three minutes, which is really, really nice.

And that's basically what 3G is all about. Speed.

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