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Last Updated: Friday, 26 November, 2004, 17:12 GMT
The story of 3G
Stephen Cole
By Stephen Cole
BBC Click Online presenter

The real excitement in the mobile phone world at the moment is centred around 3G. But how did the mobile get to where it is now? Stephen Cole explains.

3G mobile phone
Cost has been a barrier to some who would like to use 3G
After first generation analogue phones came second generation GSM and GPRS phones.

These allowed the transfer of data other than just voice calls and gave rise to the phenomenon of the text message.

The third generation of phones - 3G - allows much higher data transfer rates.

It is like broadband on your phone, opening up a wealth of data-rich services on the move. At least, that is the theory.

At its best, a 3G phone is powerful enough to make video calls. If you really want to, you can see who you are calling instead of just hearing them.

Business users can download e-mails and surf the web, and entertainment is also playing a large part in 3G marketing.

You can stream music videos and movie clips and even, in some countries, stream live TV.

At a reasonable price, 3G is getting very well used
Dr Irwin Jacobs
The 3G salesman would have us believe this is the way forward. But although some of these services are already big in Asia-Pacific, they do not come cheap.

And cost is only one of the problems 3G has encountered.

But the man credited with the invention of 3G, Dr Irwin Jacobs, believes there has been great progress from where 3G started.


Click Online is broadcast on BBC News 24: Saturday at 2030, Sunday at 0430 and 1630, and on Monday at 0030. A short version is also shown on BBC Two: Saturday at 0645 and BBC One: Sunday at 0730 . Also BBC World.

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