An Overview of UMTS

by Aeyne Schriber on March 18, 2012 in 3G

Over the last decade consumers and business people alike have become increasingly mobile.  Within the last few years there has been a significant increase in the number of people who are multitasking on the go.  It is difficult not to notice the number of people who are interacting with a mobile device in some form or another whenever you are out in public.

So when did this all start and where is it going in the next few years to come?

Background of UMTS

The increased use of mobile devices has been around for some time however, mobile communications started to really become visible about a decade ago when UMTS launched its initial network in the United Kingdom.   UMTS stands for Universal Mobile Telecommunications System and is also commonly referred to as the Global System for Mobile communications.

Following the initial launch of the first network in the UK, the second launch a few years later was known as 3 which was a forerunner to what we now know as 3G, getting its name from the GSM standard.  The establishment of 3G networks in the UK allowed other UMTS networks to be implemented throughout various locations such as Germany, Hong Kong, Sweden, and Australia.

By The mid-2000s cell phone carriers such as T-Mobile, Vodafone, and AT&T began to launch pilot projects in in Europe and a few locations in the United States with 3G technology officially being used by the public in the US by 2007.

Understanding UMTS Technology

UMTS technology can get quite involved so in this section of the article we will provide you with a general overview of UMTS without getting too deep into the core of telecommunications technology.  Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems utilize what is known as W-CDMA technology which stands for Wideband Code Division Multiple Access, a standard set forth by ITU (International Telecommunication Union) which is an agency within the United Nations for information and communications technology.

W-CDMA is an air interface utilized by Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems to deliver third-generation (3G) wireless technology for mobile devices which enable connections to work at higher data speeds than in the past.  The input signals from W-CDMA are transmitted over a wide variety of frequencies in order to support mobile device voice, data, and video communications.  For example, a device which is equipped with a UMTS module can become a primary device for communications which require high speed broadband access in order to function efficiently and without disruption in the service.

Benefits of UMTS Technology

One of the principal purposes of Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems technology is its ability to offer a diversified number of services. Plus it allows network carriers to develop new products and services within a shorter period of time since there is no need to change the network infrastructure to introduce new applications.  Other benefits to the end user include:

  • Convenience and Low Cost Communications:  Mobile communications that utilize UMTS technology offer the end user a more cost effective and convenient way to communicate utilizing video and VoIP applications.  Additionally, it allows the mobile carriers to offer the end user services that can be customized to meet the individual needs of the mobile user.
  • Packet-Oriented Transmission:  Instead of the older methods of cell phone technology which utilized circuit switches, UMTS technology can offer data rates on demand using the W-CDMA air interface we described earlier.  This allows you to connect to a virtual network at any time using any service regardless if it is bandwidth intensive or not.  This is due to the integration of packet data with circuit data that makes mobile communications easier to use along with connections to the network that are faster and hassle-free.
  • Advanced Communications Services:  UMTS technology offers the end user the ability to access advanced communications which require a high speed connection. Through the use of W-CDMA air interfaces, mobile users can actually have a face-to-face conversation with someone using their mobile device in addition to accessing to a variety of other multimedia applications.

Another primary benefit of UMTS technology is it has been designed to be a global communications system. Hence the reason for the uniform standards we mentioned earlier set forth by the ITU which establish a global communications system delivery via UMTS air interfaces.  Although there are still physical restraints of accessing UMTS 3G communications, within the last few years this has gradually been improving and becoming more widely available, especially in remote geographical areas.

Availability of 3G

If you are fairly new to 3G communications, you may be under the impression that 3G is unavailable in most non-metropolitan geographical areas.  The truth is that 3G has become widely available within the last few years with the exception of extremely remote areas.  The reality is that UMTS (3G) is basically the precursor to 4G technology which is a higher speed connection.  4G has already become widely available overseas and in some locations across the US.  3G connectivity was developed with improved communications in mind and as the driving force behind creating standards set forth by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute when 3G launched in the UK and eventually the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in the United Nations.

Future of UMTS

The future of UMTS is already well underway in European countries and has been launched in the United States with the inception of 4G communications technology.  The primary groundwork has already been established for a unified global telecommunications system with UMTS-equipped devices already being capable of roaming to other UTMS networks without a lot of the hassles associated with older roaming telecommunications protocols.

Where UMTS is headed once 4G becomes more widespread in different geographic locations remains to be seen.  However, the fact that UMTS has enhanced interoperability and global roaming is a sure sign that the future of telecommunications will be mobile-based.  This coupled with upcoming generations which are accustomed to communicating and working in a mobile environment also is solid ground for a future environment that is geared toward multitasking from any location and at anytime.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Broadband Expert March 29, 2012 at 7:49 pm

WCDMA is the newest form of telecommunication today. since the integration of all elements inside the network, the flow of signal becomes simplify. the protocols and interface of each equipments become complex, from HLR, MSC, SGSN, BSC, BTS, RNC, NodeB. these are the elements which create a big role in UMTS network.

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