In 1998, for example, working groups at the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in Geneva, the
reigning worldwide standards body, assembled to evaluate no less than five competing proposals for 3G wireless networks. Some of the proposals offered backward compatibility with existing 2G
networks; others did not. Today, the 3G international standard, known as IMT-2000 (or UMTS), represents an amalgam of many international interests. Groups as diverse as the GSM Association, the Universal Wireless Communications Consortium (UWCC), ETSI, the North American CDMA Development Group, the ITU, and the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) have provided technical input into the IMT-2000 specification, which is still undergoing modification.
ITU defines the combined 3G wireless standard as “a comprehensive set of terrestrial and satellite radio interfaces,” a standard that actually encompasses specs for both narrowband and
wideband CDMA and TDMA (the spec was originally approved by the European Telecommunications Union). The specification accommodates fixed, mobile and Internet wireless users. IMT-2000 is a “standard that allows operators the freedom of radio access methods and core networks to openly implement and evolve their systems depending on the regulatory, market or business requisites,” ITU states. Key features of the 3G standard include
compatibility of services within IMT-2000 mobile and fixed networks; high voice quality; small terminals for worldwide use; worldwide roaming; and the capability of supporting multimedia
applications and services, such as videoconferencing, high-speed Internet, e-commerce, voice calling, and high-rate data.