With the rapid expansion of the internet in the mid-1990s, applications and services that used packet data saw explosive growth. There was widespread proliferation of mobile phones around the same time, mainly for voice services, and the need was felt to enable data services on mobile phones. There were two paths available to provide data access on mobile devices: enhance the existing second generation (2G) systems to support higher data rates, or develop a new system designed with support for both data and voice services in mind from the outset.
The 2G systems, which are still in wide use today, are based on a technology called GSM (Global System for Mobile) which was developed only for voice services. It was enhanced to support data services, first by the introduction of the GSM Packet Radio System (GPRS), and next by the addition of Enhanced Data-rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE). However, these systems were designed to depend fundamentally on the GSM air interface structure and they were, therefore, limited in their ability to deliver true broadband speeds. The second alternative – development of a new system designed to support both data and voice from the outset – resulted in the third generation of cellular systems, which based on an entirely different air interface technology.
In this chapter, we explore third generation (3G) systems which represent the first cellular technology that could truly provide broadband speeds of several ...