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Why Study 3G Mobile? 

Undisputedly, the two biggest success stories in telecommunications over the last decade have been the Internet and the mobile phone.  And now, it is their seamless combination that heralds the promise of anywhere, anytime, anyplace communication systems.  The ITU's vision for third-generation (3G) mobile systems (IMT-2000) foresees this convergence of mobile, fixed and Internet Protocol (IP) networks towards future high-speed services, integrating voice and data with innovative offerings such as location-based services.  

This vision presupposes that it will be possible for users to roam freely with their handsets and have affordable access to equivalent products and services.  Today, technically, effective roaming exists for the GSM standard throughout Europe, parts of Africa, Asia and South America.  However, it is far from global: for instance, roaming to and from North America and Japan requires special measures and users may even incur custom duties and taxes relating to the use of their handsets abroad.  Moreover, the complexity and non-transparency of pricing for roaming services have been problematic for second-generation (2G) users.  IMT-2000 3G roaming, with the added complications of multiple frequency bands, radio transmission technologies and Internet access, may require additional international coordination or new regulatory approaches.

During the last year or two, the world has seen a large number of licenses for 3G services being awarded through various approaches, such as auctions and beauty contests.   In many countries, the process has been characterized by legal challenges, last-minute consolidation, and high licence fees. Many more countries have not yet begun the process.  At this stage, the questions to be explored include the impacts of the chosen regulatory approach on pricing, market dynamics and business strategies.  Another important issue is the regulatory treatment of Virtual Network Operators (VNOs) in the mobile space.  VNOs may not be licensed to use radio spectrum, but would have access to the networks of one or more of the licensed operators, in order to provide subscription and call services to their customers.  Although some countries like the UK have examined more closely the position of VNOs,  the regulatory climate is still uncertain and most countries have yet to tackle the issue. 

Background Regulatory Resources 

This Website has been designed to provide background resources on the topic of 3G Mobile Licensing.

Some documents are in Microsoft Word or .doc format:. If you require a Word Viewer or Reader, they are available here at the Microsoft site.  Other documents are in Acrobat or .pdf format: .  If you do not have Adobe Acrobat®  reader, it is available free of charge from the Adobe website:

C O N T E N T S 

All About the Technology

Issues Related to Spectrum

Licensing Policies for 3G 

IMT-2000 License Allocation Table (ITU), xls (09/2001)  

World Licensing Update from UMTS Forum 

Table: Allocation of 3G Mobile Licences in Selected Countries Worldwide

Virtual Network Operators in the Mobile Space       

International Roaming

Future Trends in Handset Technology (Warning: this page may take some time to load) 


Top Regulator Sites on 3G

1. ART (France): L'introduction des systèmes mobiles 3G en France (French only) 

2. IDA (Singapore): 3G in Singapore

3. PTS (Sweden): Licensing of UMTS/IMT-2000 in Sweden

4. OFTA (Hong Kong SAR): 3G Licensing

5. IBPT (Belgium): UMTS/IMT-2000

6. NTIA (USA): 3G Wireless


Related ITU Resources

IMT-2000 (International Mobile Telecommunications for 2000 and beyond)

GMPCS (Global Mobile Personal Communications by Satellite)



ITU Workshop:  Licensing of 3G Mobile (Geneva, 19-20 September 2001)    



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Updated : 2011-04-04