3G in the UK Explored
This page contains information about 3G, the high-speed mobile data service available in the UK.
What is 3G?
Not sure what 3G is? Need some help and advice?
3G was launched in the UK in March 2003 by the network operator 3. The other UK network operators later launched their 3G services.
3G stands for the "third generation" of mobile phone handsets... (1G was the old analogue system, 2G was the digital handsets that we were using a few years ago, with 2.5G representing handsets with data capabilities over GPRS).
3G is all about data, and letting mobile phones and mobile computers surf the 'net using Broadband speeds over a mobile phone network. The features you can get from 3G are as follows:
- Super-fast surfing and downloads: 3G offers speeds in the Megabit range not the Kilobit range - offering a much faster download service than we've been used to in the UK.
- Download video: This was the big selling point when 3G launched - the ability to watch streamed video clips on your handset - this can be live TV, sports snippets, music, news headlines, weather forecasts, adult content, or movie trailers.
- Video calls: Make and receive video calls to/from other 3G users. See who you're talking to in real time
- Pictures: 3G phones can take still digital pictures as well as coping with video. You can send photos to other 3G users, as well as to users with non-3G phones that use MMS. Data speeds are considerably faster than a standard 2.5G MMS phone.
- Location-based services: See a map of where you are, and where to find nearest shops, banks, etc (Location info). Some handsets, like the Apple iPhone have built-in GPS for navigation
- Games: Download games up to 30 times faster than on a standard GSM phone, and play online games such as Bomberman, Splinter Cell and the old favourite Scrabble.
The UK Networks:
The UK's first 3G network operator. They offer ThreePay (a pay-as-you-go service), and a pay monthly service starting from £15 per month with a free handset and free minutes.
|o2||o2 is offering a range of 3G handsets, and data tariffs. Their range is changing all the time, so it's best to check at www.o2.co.uk|
|Orange||Offering 3G to 70% of the UK. For more information, go to www.orange.co.uk|
|Vodafone||Also with a range of 3G data service and handset offerings, including data cards and high-volume business tariffs. More at www.vodafone.co.uk .|
T-Mobile's 3G network now covers a reasonable amount of the UK. At the time of writing, their Mobile Broadband tariffs provides high speed mobile Internet access using a USB modem or 3G data card that connects to your laptop offering speeds of up to 1.8Meg.
The card is free when you take out a 12 month contract. More at www.t-mobile.co.uk
|Specials from 3:
The Skypephone from 3 is a standard 3G mobile that lets you make free Skype calls to other Skype users. As well as being a standard mobile phone, it can make free Skype calls, and it's got an MP3 player, 2 Meg camera, Internet, email and Bluetooth
Available free on contract, or under £40 on pay-as-you-go. Great for free calls over Skype to the 170 million Skype users around the world. FREE calls to anyone, anywhere at anytime.
A quick look at some notable 3G handsets released in the UK:
|Nokia 6220||3's Skypephone|
Free on some tariffs - More on our Nokia 6220 page
More on our Skypephone page
Available from www.three.co.uk.
|Apple iPhone 3G||Nokia N95|
Free on some tariffs - More on our Nokia N95 page
If you want to connect your laptop to the Internet while away from home or the office, there are two offers worth looking at currently.
More on high-speed USB modems on our USB Modem page.
- Mobile Internet Access - Details of how to access fast Internet from your phone, PDA or laptop.
- USB Modems - A look at dongles that plug into your laptop for mobile Internet access
- Portable wi-fi modem - Details on how to get wi-fi from a 3G modem
- Mobiles.co.uk offer a pretty impressive selection of special offers on 3
- 3's website: www.three.co.uk
- UK Mobile FAQ - Answers to common mobile phone questions
- Discuss 3G - talk about 3 and 3G in our forum