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(global system for mobile
communication) 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
UMTS is the next generation of mobile telecommunications and is
the next progression from GPRS. The UMTS network builds on existing
technologies and delivers combined voice, data, video and multi-media
capabilities to your mobile.
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
UMTS is already a reality. Japan launched the world's first commercial
WCDMA network in 2001, and WCDMA networks are now operating
commercially in Austria, Italy, Sweden and the UK with more launches
anticipated during 2003-2004. Several other pilot and pre-commercial trials are
operational in the Isle of Man, Monaco and other European territories. Some
200 operators worldwide are also giving their customers a taste of faster data
services with so-called "2.5G" systems based on GPRS(general packet radio
service) technology - a natural evolutionary stepping-stone towards UMTS.
Many operators are also advancing plans to deploy EDGE (enhanced data
rates for global evolution) technology to increase the speed and capacity of
mobile services offered in their current GSM frequency allocations.
With the 3G licensing process largely completed in many parts of the
world, WCDMA networks at an advanced stage of construction in many
countries and handsets becoming available from an increasing number of
manufacturers, the stage is set for the worldwide deployment of UMTS
The UMTS is not a replacement of 2nd generation technologies (e.g.
GSM, DCS1800, CDMA, DECT etc.), which will continue to evolve to their full
Types of generations
Technically generations are defined:
1G networks (NMT, C-Nets, AMPS, TACS) are considered to be the
first analog cellular systems, which started early 1980s. There were
radio telephone systems even before that.
2G networks (GSM, cdmaOne, DAMPS) are the first digital cellular
systems launched early 1990s.
2.5G networks (GPRS, cdma2000 1x) are the enhanced versions of 2G
networks with data rates up to about 144kbit/s.
3G networks (UMTS FDD and TDD, cdma2000 1x EVDO, cdma2000
3x, TD-SCDMA, Arib WCDMA, EDGE, IMT-2000 DECT) are the latest
cellular networks that have data rates 384kbit/s and more.
4G is mainly a marketing buzzword at the moment. Some basic 4G
research is being done, but no frequencies have been allocated. The
Forth Generation could be ready for implementation around 2012.
UMTS vs second generation networks
- Higher speech quality that current networks - Addition to speech traffic UMTS,
together with advanced data and information services, will be a multimedia
- UMTS is above 2G mobile systems for its potential to support 2Mbit/s data
- UMTS is a real global system, comprising both terrestrial and satellite
- Consistent service environment even when roaming via "Virtual Home
Environment" (VHE). A person roaming from his network to other UMTS
operators, user will experience a consistent set of services thus "feeling" on his
home network, independent of the location or access mode (satellite or
Transition period between UMTS and the present system
There will probably not be a "transition" period in that sense, because GSM
systems will keep on operating at least next ten years. (some old 1G networks
are still running round the world). Only limitations for operators are the GSM
license terms and customer preferences. UMTS networks will just be added to
GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) is a method of accelerating data
transmission speeds for mobile communications. Faster connections mean
information delivery speeds approaching that of PC modems. GPRS is a crucial
stepping stone towards the even faster speeds of third generation (3G) of
It offers the potential for faster downloading and exchanging of information
giving users more convenient wireless connections for data, fax and internet
UMTS was developed mainly for countries with GSM(global system for mobile
communication) networks, because these countries have agreed to free new
frequency ranges for UMTS networks. Because it is a new technology and in a
new frequency band, whole new radio access network has to be build. The
advantage is that new frequency range gives plenty of new capacity for
operators. 3GPP is overseeing the standard development and has wisely kept
the core network as close to GSM core network as possible. UMTS phones are
not meant to be backward compatible with GSM systems. (but subscriptions
(SIM card) can be, and dual mode phone will solve the compatibility problems,
hopefully). UMTS also has 2 flavors FDD (will be implemented first) and TDD.
Like GPRS, UMTS is packet based technology. This means that during a call,
data is stored up and sent as discrete 'packets' through the network as and
when it is needed. This means that the network is only carrying data when it
needs to. This is different to the existing GSM network where a call ties up the
network resources for the whole duration of the call.
Today's cellular telephone systems are mainly circuit-switched, with
connections always dependent on circuit availability. A packet-switched
connection, using the Internet Protocol (IP), means that a virtual connection is
always available to any other end point in the network. It will also make it
possible to provide new services, such as alternative billing methods (pay-per-
bit, pay-per-session, flat rate, asymmetric bandwidth, and others). The higher
bandwidth of UMTS also promises new services, such as video conferencing.
UMTS promises to realize the Virtual Home Environment (VHE) in which a
roaming user can have the same services to which the user is accustomed
when at home or in the office, through a combination of transparent terrestrial
and satellite connections
Existing GSM or GPRS phones will not work with UMTS. The new phones are
termed "terminals" or "devices" as they can have more functionality than just
being used for voice calls. The technology is very new and initially UMTS only
user equipment will be produced, but gradually equipment that can use
GSM/GPRS/UMTS will be available.
UMTS is above 2G mobile systems for its potential to support 2Mbit/s
data rates from the outset. This capability, together with the inherent IP
support, combine powerfully to deliver interactive multimedia services and new
wideband applications, such as video telephony and video conferencing.
Packet transmission and data rate on demand
Present cellular systems use circuit switched technology for data. UMTS
integrates packet and circuit data transmission with the
* virtual connectivity to the network at all times
* alternative ways of billing (e.g. pay-per-bit, per session, flat rate, ul/dl
asymmetric bandwidth) as demanded by many emerging data services
UMTS is also being designed to offer data rate on demand which, in
combination with packet data, will make operation of the system much cheaper.
Friendly and consistent service environment
UMTS services are based on common capabilities throughout all UMTS
user and radio environments. When roaming from his network to other UMTS
operators, a personal user will experience a consistent set of services thus
"feeling" on his home network ("Virtual Home Environment", or VHE). VHE will
ensure the delivery of the service provider’s total environment, including e.g. a
corporate user’s virtual work environment, independent of the access mode
(satellite or terrestrial). VHE will enable terminals to negotiate functionality with
the visited network, possibly by a software download, and "home-like" services
will be provided with full security and transparency across a mix of access and
Mobility and Coverage
UMTS is conceived as a global system, comprising both terrestrial and
satellite components. Multi-mode terminals operating also via 2G systems (e.g.
GSM 900 and 1800) will further extend the reach of many UMTS services. With
these terminals a subscriber will be able to roam from a private network into a
picocellular/micro-cellular public one, then into a wide area macrocellular
network (e.g. a 2G network), and then to a satellite mobile one, with minimal
break in communication.
Radio Technology for All Environments
The UMTS radio interface UTRA will support operation with high
spectral efficiency and service quality. In practical implementations, UMTS
terminals might be unable to operate at the highest data rates at all times, and
in remote or heavily congested areas system services might only support lower
rates due to radio propagation constraints or economic reasons. In order to
enable subscribers to always use their terminal, services will be adaptive to
different data rate availability and other Quality of Service (QoS) parameters. In
the early stages of deployment, UMTS coverage will be limited.
Therefore, UMTS will enable roaming with other networks, e.g. a GSM system
operated by the same operator or with other GSM or 3G systems of other
operators, including UMTS compatible satellites.
UMTS Services Available Globally by Satellite
Satellite technology can readily provide global coverage and service and
it is expected to play an important role for UMTS world-wide coverage. UMTS
is being standardised to ensure an efficient and effective roaming and
handover between satellite and terrestrial networks.
Spectrum for UMTS
WRC’92 identified the frequency bands 1885-2025 MHz and 2110-
2200 MHz for future IMT-2000 systems, with the bands 1980-2010 MHz and
2170-2200 MHz intended for the satellite part of these future systems. Now, it
is time to make these bands available for UMTS licences to enable operators
for network deployments.
Universal Mobile Communication System (UMTS) can offer mobile
multimedia applications such as video conferencing, location based services
and image downloads . UMTS will provide the platform for a wide variety of
future applications that do not yet exist and is in many respects difficult to
imagine. It will provide enhanced person-to-person communication with high
quality images and video capabilities. Access to information will be improved by
utilising higher data rate and new flexible communication capabilities. UMTS
will not be launched onto the mass market in the same way as GSM, but is
intended rather as a logical continuation of current technology. The continuing
evolution of the second-generation systems will create new business
opportunities for manufacturers and operators as well as content and
application providers using these networks. The result will not be a dramatic
increase in customer numbers but rather a gradual rise in individual client take-
up. The best-known new feature of UMTS will be higher user bit rates with
connections up to 384 Kbps for circuit switched data and up to 2 Mbps on
packet switched data.
o Messaging services such as SMS, e-mail, Voice-mail and Fax all
combined into a single application.
o Video and Image services providing Conferencing, Streaming, Image
o Information services offering Cinema ticket reservation, Restaurant
locations, Tour Guide.
o E-Cash capabilities allowing downloading of e-cash into mobile,
Checking Bank balance, and Performing real transactions.
o Access to Corporate databases to find phone and address book, e-mail
addresses, product information.
The main attraction to UMTS is that with a maximum 2Mbps capacity there is
so much potential to create new services which is currently unimaginable.
Basically all the UMTS operators are looking for a killer applications that will
uplift sales in third generation mobile subscribers. So if you want to be the next
Bill Gate then think of a killer application for UMTS.
UMTS offers teleservices (like speech or SMS) and bearer services, which
provide the capability for information transfer between access points. It is
possible to negotiate and renegotiate the characteristics of a bearer service at
session or connection establishment and during ongoing session or connection.
Both connection oriented and connectionless services are offered for Point-to-
Point and Point-to-Multipoint communication.
Bearer services have different QoS parameters for maximum transfer delay,
delay variation and bit error rate. Offered data rate targets are:
144 kbits/s satellite and rural outdoor
384 kbits/s urban outdoor
2048 kbits/s indoor and low range outdoor
UMTS network services have different QoS classes for four types of traffic:
Conversational class (voice, video telephony, video gaming)
Streaming class (multimedia, video on demand, webcast)
Interactive class (web browsing, network gaming, database access)
Background class (email, SMS, downloading)
UMTS will have a Virtual Home Environment (VHE). It is a concept for
personal service environment portability across network boundaries and
between terminals. Personal service environment means that users are
consistently presented with the same personalised features, User Interface
customisation and services in whatever network or terminal, wherever the user
may be located. UMTS also has improved network security and location based
UMTS Mobile Multimedia services
UMTS Forum's Market Aspects Group has identified seven common lifestyle
attributes for mobile multimedia applications. Here is a list of possible type of
services that will be available in 3G networks:
Fun: WWW, video, post card, snapshots, text, picture and multimedia
messaging, datacast, personalisation applications (ring tone, screen saver,
desk top), jukebox, virtual companion / pet ...
Work: Rich call with image and data stream, IP telephony, B2B ordering and
logistics, information exchange, personal information manager, dairy,
scheduler, note pad, 2-way video conferencing, directory services, travel
assistance, work group, telepresence, FTP, instant voicemail, colour fax ...
Media: Push newspaper and magazines, advertising, classified ...
Shopping: E-commerce, e-cash, e-wallet, credit card, telebanking, automatic
transaction, auction, micro-billing shopping ...
Entertainment: News, stock market, sports, games, lottery, gambling, music,
video, concerts, adult content ...
Education: Online libraries, search engines, remote attendance, field research
Peace of Mind: Remote surveillance, location tracking, emergency use ...
Health: Telemedicine, remote diagnose and heath monitoring ...
Automation: Home automation, traffic telematics, machine-machine
communication (telemetry) ...
Travel: location sensitive information and guidance, e-tour, location
awareness, time tables, e-ticketing ...
Add-on: TV, radio, PC, access to remote computer, MP3 player, camera, video
camera, watch, pager, GPS, remote control unit ...
Umts coverage area
A UMTS network consist of three interacting domains; Core Network (CN),
UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access Network (UTRAN) and User Equipment (UE).
The main function of the core network is to provide switching, routing and
transit for user traffic. Core network also contains the databases and network
The basic Core Network architecture for UMTS is based on GSM network with
GPRS. All equipment has to be modified for UMTS operation and services. The
UTRAN provides the air interface access method for User Equipment. Base
Station is referred as Node-B and control equipment for Node-B's is called
Radio Network Controller (RNC).
It is necessary for a network to know the approximate location in order to be
able to page user equipment. Here is the list of system areas from largest to
o UMTS systems (including satellite)
o Public Land Mobile Network (PLMN)
o Location Area
o Routing Area (PS domain)
o UTRAN Registration Area (PS domain)
o Sub cell
The Core Network is divided in circuit switched and packet switched domains.
The Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) is defined for UMTS core
transmission. ATM Adaptation Layer type 2 (AAL2) handles circuit switched
connection and packet connection protocol AAL5 is designed for data delivery.
The architecture of the Core Network may change when new services and
features are introduced. Number Portability DataBase (NPDB) will be used to
enable user to change the network while keeping their old phone number.
Gateway Location Register (GLR) may be used to optimise the subscriber
handling between network boundaries
Wide band CDMA technology was selected to for UTRAN air interface. UMTS
WCDMA is a Direct Sequence. In UMTS, in addition to channelisation, Codes
are used for synchronisation and scrambling. WCDMA has two basic modes of
operation: Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) and Time Division Duplex (TDD).
The UMTS standard does not restrict the functionality of the User Equipment in
any way. Terminals work as an air interface counter part for Node-B and have
many different types of identities. Most of these UMTS identity types are taken
directly from GSM specifications.
The security functions of UMTS are based on what was implemented in GSM.
Some of the security functions have been added and some existing have been
improved. Encryption algorithm is stronger and included in base station
(NODE-B) to radio network controller (RNC) interface , the application of
authentication algorithms is stricter and subscriber confidentially is tighter.
The main security elements that are from GSM:
Authentication of subscribers
Subscriber identity confidentially
Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) to be removable from terminal
Radio interface encryption
Additional UMTS security features:
Security against using false base stations with mutual authentication
Encryption extended from air interface only to include Node-B to RNC
Security data in the network will be protected in data storages and while
transmitting ciphering keys and authentication data in the system.
Mechanism for upgrading security features.
Core network traffic between RNCs, MSCs and other networks is not
ciphered and operators can to implement protections for their core
network transmission links, but that is unlike to happen. MSCs will have
by design a lawful interception capabilities and access to Call Data
Records (SDR), so all switches will have to have security measures
against unlawful access.
UMTS specification has five security feature groups:
Network access security: the set of security features that provide users
with secure access to 3G services, and which in particular protect
against attacks on the (radio) access link;
Network domain security: the set of security features that enable nodes
in the provider domain to securely exchange signalling data, and protect
against attacks on the wireline network;
User domain security: the set of security features that secure access to
Application domain security: the set of security features that enable
applications in the user and in the provider domain to securely exchange
Visibility and configurability of security: the set of features that enables
the user to inform himself whether a security feature is in operation or
not and whether the use and provision of services should depend on the
UMTS specification has the following user identity confidentiality security
User identity confidentiality: the property that the permanent user
identity (IMSI) of a user to whom a services is delivered cannot be
eavesdropped on the radio access link;
User location confidentiality: the property that the presence or the arrival
of a user in a certain area cannot be determined by eavesdropping on
the radio access link;
User untraceability: the property that an intruder cannot deduce whether
different services are delivered to the same user by eavesdropping on
the radio access link.
Air interface ciphering/deciphering in performed in RNC in the network
side and in mobile terminals. Ciphering in function of air interface
protocol Radio Link Control (RLC) layer or Medium Access control
Comparision of umts speed with other speeds:
Will 2G / 2.5G phones be able to use all UMTS' applications?
GSM (or other 2G) phones will not be able to use all features, because of data
speed, build in memory and applications, display technology etc. Application
providers and operators are very unlikely to try to implement complex feature to
GSM, money is going to UMTS services. GPRS phone users will be able to use
most of the UMTS services; probably only location based and very high rate
data services cannot be implemented. But all this it depends on if operators
want to implement those. All basic services like voice and messaging will flow
between all systems.
The future 3G handsets be compatible with 2G systems and PCs
Some of the 3G mobiles will be dualband UMTS/GSM handsets (available late
2002) and will be able to perform UMTS-GSM handovers. Current GSM
phones will not work in 3G networks. Several SIM card manufacturers now
offer cards compatible with 2G and 3G systems. Cellular3G, for example, will
offer PCMCIA W-CDMA 3G-modem cards for PCs.
Data compression done in UMTS
Video and music compression will be done in application level. 3G phone (and
network application servers) will have programs (or you will be downloading
them) that records and displays video or music. Those programs have build-in
data compression features. Good examples are MP3 and other music
programs. MP3 codec includes data compression and most current music
player understands it. For image and video there are several standards
including JPEG, MPEG-4, H.263, Microsoft media player etc. available.
Is there any interface from UMTS core network to other mobile networks?
UMTS specifications do not have any special interface planned for other mobile
networks, but all telephone networks can be connected to UMTS core network
with standard S7 (or other) signalling system using E1s or T1s. Than enables
voice calls to be made to all other telephone networks. If other networks
support additional services like "call forwarding", "calling line identity", fax, slow-
speed data ect, technically that is possible to implement this between networks.
All telephone networks are designed to work with each other and UMTS
networks will use standard interfaces towards all other networks. S7 and IP
(internet protocol) will be the most commonly used interfaces standard, but all
UMTS vendors can offer tens of different country-specific interface protocols if
What will be a 3G Killer Application?
Most people have their own view what the 3G Killer Application(s) will be.
Some say that there will not be a single application, but a palette of services.
Most likely there will not be only a single application that becomes very popular
and at the same time makes a lot of money to the operator. Email, voice(!),
messaging, music/video streaming are popular bets for money making
applications. If you look any reports about 3G services, m-commerce and
location based services are predicted to become very popular. Maybe the
pricing will decide what will be a popular service.
3G operators are planning to make their money with mobile applications even
when there might never be a single killer application. According to the Report 9
from UMTS Forum near-term 3G data services are subdivided into content
connectivity and mobility, then further subdivided to create the following six
Multimedia Messaging Service
Mobile Intranet/Extranet Access
Mobile Internet Access
According to a whitepaper form Nokia, 3G applications can be divided into:
Bearer Entrance and Periodics
This summary of UMTS service introductions using W-CDMA technology
is based on public information provided by mobile network operators. "Trial"
does not indicate exact status of deployments, but includes networks that are
currently in pre-commercial launch phase with test customers. The future
mobile communications systems will offer much more than just telephony and
text messaging. Experts think that mobile multimedia sevices playing a major
role in our daily lives. Entering in to the new era will be radio standards such as
UMTS backed with local mobile networks and digital radio services