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Mobile connection methods explained

There are a number of methods which can be used to transfer data to and from a mobile device such as a smartphone.  Please see below for the technologies currently available in the UK.  The actual transfer methods available to you will depend on the device and data service you have.


The fourth generation data technology (4G) is slowly becoming available, although this is limited to some major UK cities at the moment, Coverage will spread over the next year or two.  4G technology promises much higher data speeds when compared to the currently available 3G services. With the exception of Apple's iPhone 5, and one or two models by Samsung, HTC, and Nokia, most mobile smartphones currently available will not work with 4G services.

4G can deliver download peak speeds of 100Mbs and upload speeds of 50Mbs.


Third generation (3G) is the fastest of the three data technologies currently available in the UK.  3G is used in the context of mobile phone standards. The services associated with 3G provide the ability to simultaneously transfer  both voice data (a telephone call) and non-voice data (such as downloading information, exchanging email, and instant messaging).

3G currently provides data transfer speeds of up to 384kbps.


Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) is one of the third-generation cell-phone technologies, which is also being developed into a 4G technology.  To differentiate UMTS from competing network technologies, UMTS is sometimes marketed as 3GSM, emphasising the combination of the 3G nature of the technology and the GSM (mobile phone) standard which it was designed to succeed. 

UMTS currently provides similar data transfer speeds as 3G (384kbps).


Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE), or Enhanced GPRS (EGPRS), is a digital mobile phone technology that allows increased data transmission rates and improved data transmission reliability. Although technically a 3G network technology, it is generally classified as the unofficial standard 2.75G, due to its slower network speed. 

EDGE ccurrently provides data transfer speeds of up to 170kbps.


General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is a data service that was first provided on the hand held cell phone data devices. GPRS is still widely used, but it is relatively slow.

GPRS currently provides data transfer speeds of up to 56kbps.

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