If there is one term that is least understood but still continues to generate a lot of buzz, it has to be 3G. I'll demystify this jargon and find out exactly what it is and how we can benefit from it. 3G will also unleash an amazing number of new gadgets that will redefine the way we look at entertainment, education and communication.
3G stands for third generation, a wireless technology that helps to simultaneously transfer voice (telephone calls) and data (broadband Internet). 3G is an evolution of the existing 2G technologies that has limited capabilities, both on the device side and on the network side. The mobile connectivity we currently use runs on 2G network and its plagued on two accounts.
One is the limited network bandwidth which explains why our calls can't go through because of network congestion. The second is extremely lean data bandwidth, which explains why surfing on the mobile phone or the GPRS data card is so pathetically slow. 3G could be our solution.
3G offers a huge bandwidth which means that we no longer have to suffer from congestion. We can now benefit from superior voice quality, higher call connections and lower consumption of battery power.
Networks supporting 3G would have data transfer speeds up to 3 Mbps. This is a huge improvement over the extremely limited 144 Kbps we are used to so far. For example, if you chose to download a Tamil song over the existing setup, it would take you upwards of 10 minutes. But with a 3G connection, you will be done in under 15 seconds.
One can take advantage of higher mega pixel cameras that come with the latest phones and upload both photos and videos online or even stream live. Higher bandwidth means easier way to listen to music, watch videos, do social networking and play advanced games. 3G makes video streaming applications such as Live TV, movie downloads, high speed data download possible on mobile phones. Higher bandwidth opens up many possibilities and thereby enables a common user to experience a host of advanced data services like mobile banking and micro finance. Now with such widespread mobile penetration, imagine the wide reach of banking. A business user using 3G-enabled hand-held devices will be able to download large-sized files quickly; his email capabilities and Internet experience will increase considerably due to higher network speeds, thereby making laptops redundant. 3G has immense potential in India. We are nearing 600 million mobile phone users in India and it is expected to double by 2012.
Every month, we add over 20 million new users. We continue to be the fastest growing country in the world when it comes to mobile adoption. The good news is that in India, there are at least 40 million 3G-enabled phones, which means India already has 5 times Singapore's population as a potential 3G market. However, due to the government bureaucracy, red tapism and the haggling over the prices, the licenses for 3G have taken far longer than it should. The auction has been completed and the good news is that the private players will join in the fray very soon. When private players like Airtel, Reliance and Idea get into the fray, their marketing blitzkrieg will push adoption levels higher. But that's in the near future.
Add to this the government player's long arm of reaching 700 cities, 3G is definite to take off. For the present, only government players like BSNL and MTNL have been given licenses but their sales has been very disappointing so far. Analysts say that the big players have not marketed the services well. Countries like Japan and Korea have made 3G a national agenda and have waived the huge license fees.
This has drastically increased the adoption levels and the benefits of economy are for everyone to see. Its just a matter of time that India takes that path.