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Standing for "Universal Mobile Telecommunications System", UMTS represents an evolution in terms of services and data speeds from today's "second generation" mobile networks. As a key member of the "global family" of third generation (3G) mobile technologies identified by the ITU, UMTS is the natural evolutionary choice for operators of GSM networks, currently representing a customer base of more than 850 million end users in 195 countries and representing over 70% of today's digital wireless market.

Using fresh radio spectrum to support increased numbers of customers in line with industry forecasts of demand for data services over the next decade and beyond, "UMTS" is synonymous with a choice of WCDMA radio access technology that has already been selected by approaching 120 licensees worldwide.


Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (UMTS) is one of the third generation (3G) mobile phone technologies. It uses WCDMA as the underlying standard and is standardized by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and represents the European answer to International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) International Mobile Telecommunication 2000 requirements for 3G cellular radio systems. UMTS is sometimes marketed as 3GSM, emphasizing the combination of the nature of the technology and the GSM standard, which it was, designed to succeed.


UMTS supports up to 1920 kbit/s data transfer rates, although typical users can expect performance of around 384 kbit/s in a heavily loaded real-world system. However, this is still much greater than the 14.4 kbit/s of a single GSM error-corrected data channel or multiple 14.4 kbit/s channels in HSCSD, and offers the first prospect of practical inexpensive access to the World Wide Web on a mobile device and general use of MMS. The precursor to 3G is the now widely used GSM mobile telephony system, referred as 2G. There is also an evolution path from 2G, called GPRS, also known as 2.5G. GPRS supports a much better data rate (up to a maximum of 140.8kbit/s) and is packet based rather than connection oriented. It is deployed in many places where GSM is used.

In the near future today's UMTS networks will be upgraded with High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA). This will make a downlink transfer speed of up to 10 Mbit/s possible.

Marketing material for UMTS has emphasised the possibility of mobile videoconferencing, although whether there is actually a mass market for this service remains untested.

Other possible uses for UMTS include the downloading of music.



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