Carriers have been promising a new-fangled technology called 3G for the past five years, but for many consumers, mystery still surrounds what the technology is, how it works and what it can do. Third generation - or 3G - mobile technology provides high-speed internet access to cellphones. There are several ways to make this wireless broadband access possible but so far, Europe and most of Asia have adopted W-CDMA (wideband code division multiple access) - radio-transmission technology that delivers at up to 384 kilobits per second. The fastest fixed line access to the internet from your PC is 10 megabits per second, which is more than 20 times faster. 'What this means is you not only get voice, but also video and data on your mobile phone,' said Bruce Hicks, group managing director of Sunday Communications. 'That's almost bringing the experience you are already enjoying on your PC at home to the mobile phone.' W-CDMA transmits radio signals over a wide frequency band and is therefore able to deliver more data. Carriers around the world paid billions of dollars for licences to operate on the large bandwidth. When the telecommunications industry realised that it was going to be costly and technically challenging to jump from 2G to 3G networks, an interim stage emerged called 2.5G. A phone with 2.5G services can alternate between using the internet, sending or receiving text messages, or making phone calls without losing its connection. '3G is designed from the ground up to deliver multimedia - that's voice, video and data to your phone,' Mr Hicks says. Although you can already get video streamed to your 2.5G handset, Mr Hicks said the experience with 3G would be 'a lot nicer and richer'. 'It isn't revolutionary. A lot of services you get will be what's already available today, such as getting e-mail on a handset. 'Video chat is new, but it's not going to be a killer application.'