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Expectations high for 3G

Mobile phones
3G technology promises faster, clearer service  

By CNN's Liz George

LONDON, England (CNN) -- According to the mobile phone industry, 3G will revolutionize the way we use our phones, giving us capabilities we never dreamed of.

Industry officials are betting that demand for these extra wireless services will be huge. But what exactly is 3G and what will it mean for mobile users?

3G stands for "third generation," or the next generation of mobile phones being developed. It refers to the technology behind the handset -- the signals that transmit voice, data and multimedia services to the phone.

"We don't think that consumers should be that bothered about the technology as such, it's really what the technology can do for them that makes it exciting," says Steve Walker, marketing director for Ericsson UK.

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"Really what we're talking about is taking mobile telephony beyond just voice, which is basically what it's used for today, and giving people a whole range of new exciting services down to their mobile phone," Walker says.

With 3G our handsets will become a combination of phone, personal organizer, remote computer link portable radio, television -- you name it, your phone will probably be able to do it, faster and clearer.

3G is different from its predecessors because it uses packet technology, breaking up signals into tiny bits to allow them to carry more information.

Phone companies are making huge investments in 3G, buying licenses, developing wireless networks and creating a global standard.

"There will come a point in time, in a not-too-distant future, where if you don't have a digital personal device, you simply won't exist, in the same way that it's almost expected that you have a mobile phone today," says John Moroney, principal consultant with London-based technology analyst Ovum.

"These devices will make your life a lot easier in many areas. They will make it a lot more complex in other places, because you are expected to always have up-to-date information," says Moroney. "So it will change our lives because it will make information much more available and it will make us much more available to other people."

So far, expectations for 3G are high, and for the phone firms that have spent so much betting on its future, you have to hope this time they haven't overestimated the market.

• Ericsson
• Ovum

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