3G is the third generation mobile network that allows portable devices to connect to the internet wirelessly while on the move. 3G is capable of connecting these devices in most parts of the country, with coverage extending all the time. 3G is mostly used with mobile phones, tablets and with dongles that can connect to laptops.
3G allows users to access the internet; download and upload data; stream music and movies; and make voice and video calls. It’s faster than its predecessors like 2.5G and 2G. The latest enhancement is 4G which is due to be released soon.
How do I get 3G?
You will need a 3G enabled device which is now included on most, if not all, smartphones on the market. If you are thinking of buying a new smartphone then you may want to consider a 4G enabled device as this technology is being rolled out over the next year, with speeds much faster than 3G.
Tablets like the iPad, the Kindle Fire or the Samsung Galaxy Note (to name just a few) are 3G enabled which allows you to access the internet wherever you are.
You will need to sign up for a 3G data plan before you can access the network. Mobile phone network providers will normally include this in your contract, however you will need to check the guidelines if you are on a pay as you go service as you may incur additional charges for 3G. A 3G data plan can be expensive, but it comes in handy for people that need to access the internet on the go. However, the cost of 3G will likely continue to come down particularly with the introduction of 4G which will be the latest sought after technology.
What about Wi-Fi
With most smartphones you will still be able to access the internet without 3G by connecting to a Wi-Fi network. These are only available in hot-spots where your device can connect to the Wi-Fi signal within a short range of the router. There are an increasing number of hot-spots, particularly in busy public areas and in cafes, however it is not always free.
To 3G, Or Not To 3G
3G is right for you if when you’re out and about you need to access the internet, check your emails, send a tweet or stalk someone on Facebook. You’re not guaranteed to be able to connect to the network everywhere as there are some black spots which don’t receive much coverage. However these are improving all of the time, and most network providers can check coverage in your area before you sign up to any contract.
If you buy a new smartphone under contract then you probably won’t have to consider if 3G is right for you or not, because it’s usually included as standard. One thing to watch out for is how much data you are entitled to each month. Different plans can vary from 250 megabytes (Mb), 500Mb, 1 Gigabyte (Gb) and up. If you plan on access the internet from your device regularly and particularly if you will be watching videos, on YouTube for example, then you may want to consider a higher plan.
Use the comment section to let us know your experiences using 3G from your mobile phone, tablet or laptop dongle. Do you have anything to add to What is 3G?