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Friday May 21, 2010

3G vs 3.5G speeds

By Loh Ving Sung GooglePlus
21 May 2010 - Now with the advent of 4G on the horizon in the United States, we like to return to wireless connectivity of 3G and 3.5G variant. 3G refers to the third generation of cellular technology. The third generation, as the name suggests, follows two earlier generations. Meanwhile, 3.5G denotes the continuation and upgrade of 3G technology. 

The ITU (International Telecommunications Union) defined the 3G “to aid growth, increase bandwidth, and support more applications”. To attain 3G however, cellular bands must allow simultaneous use of voice and data services and higher data rates of at least 200 Kbps peak bit rate.  

Mobile networks had to be revolutionised, in order to switch from 2G to 3G. From this, two 3G branches were created - 3GPP and 3GPP2. However, we’ll only be focusing on GSM band, 3GPP. It was formed in 1998 and it evolved from 2.5G technologies such as GPRS and EDGE.  

Eventually, the first ‘real’ 3G standard appeared and it was called W-CDMA. The standard supported mobile/portable voice, images, data, and video communications at up to 2 Mbps (local area access) or 384 Kbps (wide area broadcast). 

After that, HSDPA made it way to with the public’s increasing demand for high-speed data. HSDPA, which evolved from the WCDMA standard, provides download speeds at least five times faster than earlier versions of 3G. HSDPA is (theoretically) able to have transfer speeds up to 14 Mpbs for downloads and 2 Mbps for uploads. 

As for those of us in Malaysia, our major telecommunication companies offer either 3G or HSDPA bands or a mixture of both. Both Celcom and Maxis offer HSDPA with transfer speeds of up to 3.6 Mbps.  

Maxis offer their data rates at 1 sen per kb (0.5 sen during off peak) and monthly 3GB plan for RM88. Celcom’s separates their 3G and HSDPA rates, which stands at RM68 and RM98 for their monthly unlimited plans. DiGi’s doesn’t offer HSDPA, but has 3G speeds up to 700 kbps, and only charges RM 58 for their unlimited data plan. Celcom and DiGi throttle speeds after you reach 3GB download for a month. Meanwhile, Maxis will charge extra after reaching 3GB.  

Local Telco speeds (download):
Telco3GHSDPA /3.5G
Maxis 384 kbps 3.6 Mbps
Celcom 384 kbps 3.6 Mbps
Digi 700 kbps N/A
Related Stories:
Maxis testing 4G LTE
Is WiMAX or LTE the better 4G choice?

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