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Definition: 3G

(3rd Generation) The third version of a product or system. For example, the previous generation of cellular transmission is 3G, which features moderately high speed for Internet access compared to the very sluggish 2G systems. In the U.S., the major 3G technologies are EV-DO for CDMA networks, such as used by Verizon and Sprint, and HSPA for GSM carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile.

Although 4G LTE technology has been widely deployed, carriers maintain their 3G networks for compatibility with the millions of older 3G cellphones in use. See cellular generations, 3G + Wi-Fi, EV-DO, HSPA and LTE.

The Network Makes a Difference
These earlier iPhone speed tests were taken at the same time in 2009 using AT&T's slower 2G EDGE (E) network and its faster 3G network. Speed is based on the network technology and number of active users in the cell.