Universal mobile telecommunications system or UMTS according to abbreviationfinder, is one of the technologies used by third-generation mobiles, successor to GSM, because GSM technology itself could not follow an evolutionary path to provide services considered third generation. Although initially intended for use in mobile phones, the UMTS network is not limited to these devices, and can be used by others.

Its three great features are multimedia capabilities, high Internet access speed, which also allows you to transmit audio and video in real time; and voice transmission with quality comparable to that of fixed networks. In addition, it has a very extensive variety of services.


In 1985, the first generation (1G) emerged in Europe after adapting the AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone System) system to European requirements, and being named TACS (Total Access Communications System). TACS encompasses all those analog mobile communications technologies. You can transmit voice but not data. Currently this technology is obsolete and is expected to disappear in the near future.

Due to the simplicity and limitations of the first generation, the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) system emerged, marking the beginning of the second generation (2G). Its main feature is the ability to transmit data in addition to voice, at a speed of 9.6 kbit/s. Which has allowed him to bring to light the famous and successful short message system (SMS).

In 2001, the so-called second and a half generation (2.5G) emerged in the United States and Europe as a previous step to 3G. This generation includes those technologies that allow greater data transmission capacity and that emerged as a step prior to 3G technologies. The most notorious technology of this generation is the GPRS (General Packet Radio System), capable of coexisting with GSM, but offering more efficient carrier service for access to IP networks such as the Internet. The maximum speed of GPRS is 171.2 kbit/s, although in practice it does not usually exceed 40 kbit/s downstream and 9.6 kbit/s upstream.

Later, 3G technologies emerged. Third generation (3G) technologies are categorized within the IMT-2000 (International Mobile Telecommunications- 2000) of the ITU (International Telecommunication Union), which sets the standard for all 3G networks to be compatible with each other.

The services offered by 3G technologies are basically: Internet access, Broadband services, international roaming and interoperability. But fundamentally, these systems allow the development of multimedia environments for the transmission of video and images in real time, fostering the appearance of new applications and services such as videoconferencing or electronic commerce with a maximum speed of 2 Mbit/s in optimal conditions, such as for example in the interior environment of buildings.


UMTS allows to introduce many more users to the global network of the system, and also allows to increase the speed to 2 Mbps per mobile user. It is being developed by 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project), a common project in which: ETSI (Europe), ARIB/TIC (Japan), [[ANSI T-1 (USA), TTA (Korea), CWTS (China). To achieve global acceptance, 3GPP is introducing UMTS in phases and annual releases. The first was in 1999, it described transitions from GSM networks. In 2000, transitions from IS-95 and TDMA were described. AND YOUIt is in charge of establishing the standard so that all 3G networks are compatible.

UMTS offers the following services:

  • Ease of use and low cost: UMTS will provide user-friendly and customizable services to address user needs and preferences, wide range of terminals to realize easy access to various services, and low cost of services to ensure mass market. Such as international roaming or the ability to offer different forms of pricing
  • New and improved services: Voice services will maintain a dominant position for several years. Users will demand high-quality voice services from UMTS along with data and information services. The projections show a strongly growing multimedia service subscriber base towards the year 2010, which also enables high-quality multimedia services in areas lacking these possibilities in the fixed network, such as areas of difficult access.


An example of this is the possibility of connecting to the Internet from the mobile terminal or from the computer connected to a mobile terminal with UMTS. Fast access: The main advantage of UMTS over the second mobile generation (2G) is the ability to support high data transmission speeds of up to 144 kbit/s over high-speed vehicles, 384 kbit/s in suburban open spaces and 7.2 Mbit/s with low mobility (inside buildings). This capability, coupled with inherent Internet Protocol (IP) support, combine powerfully to deliver interactive multimedia services and new broadband applications., such as video telephony and video conferencing services and real-time audio and video transmission.


The UMTS network structure is made up of two large subnetworks: the telecommunications network and the management network. The first is responsible for supporting the transmission of information between the ends of a connection. The second has as missions the provision of means for billing and charging of subscribers, the registration and definition of service profiles, the management and security in the handling of their data, as well as the operation of network elements, in order to ensure its correct operation, the detection and resolution of breakdowns or anomalies, or also the recovery of operation after periods of shutdown or disconnection of some of its elements. Within this section we are going to analyze only the first of the two subnets, that is, the telecommunications subnet.

UMTS uses terrestrial communication based on a W-CDMA radio interface , known as UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access (UTRA). Supports time division duplex (TDD) and frequency division duplex (FDD). Both models offer information rates of up to 2 Mbps.

A UMTS network is made up of the following elements: Core Network. The core network incorporates transport and intelligence functions. The former support the transport of traffic and signaling information, including switching. The routing resides in the intelligence functions, which include features such as the logic and control of certain services offered through a series of well-defined interfaces; they also include mobility management. Through the network core, the UMTS connects with other telecommunications networks, so that communication is possible not only between UMTS mobile users, but also with those connected to other networks. Radio access network (UTRAN). Developed to obtain high transmission speeds. The radio access network provides the connection between the mobile terminals and the Core Network.

In UMTS it is called UTRAN (Universal Terrestrial Radioelectric Access) and it is made up of a series of radio network subsystems (RNS) that are the communication mode of the UMTS network. An RNS is responsible for resources and transmission/reception in a set of cells and is composed of an RNC and one or more Node Bs. Node Bs are the network elements that correspond to base stations. The Radio Network Controller (RNC) is responsible for all control of the logical resources of a BTS (Base Transmitter Station). EU (User Equipment).

It is made up of the mobile terminal and its user/subscriber services identity module (USIM) equivalent to the SIM card of the mobile phone. Also part of this structure would be the transmission networks used to link the different elements that make it up. Like the UU and IU protocols.

An example of a connection to the UMTS network from a terminal would be the one explained with the following diagram: We start from our 3G device, be it a mobile phone or a card for computers compatible with this network, our data arrive at NodeB, which is the in charge of collecting the signals emitted by the terminals and they pass to the RNC to be processed, these two components are what we call UTRAN, from the UTRAN it passes to the core of the network that is divided into switches that distribute the data through the different systems, according to go to one or the other, they will follow a path passing through the MSC (Mobile services Switching Center), or through the SGSN (Serving GPRS Support Node) and later through the GGSN (Gateway GPRS Support Node).


After the implementation of the UMTS system, the concept of the mobile phone has changed radically, going from being a simple communication instrument to becoming a multimedia terminal with multiple capabilities for communication and leisure, thanks to the large number of services offered and that they grow day by day. Such as the ability to connect to the Internet, transfer and playback of audio and video, video conferences and others.

In addition, for areas where fixed telephony does not reach or does so poorly, such as areas on the outskirts of cities, towns far from large centers or developing countries; UMTS technology enables the possibility of bringing advanced telecommunications services to all the people who are in those areas with little coverage at the telecommunications level. For example, UMTS technology allows you to manage a business from a place without fixed telephony since the owner can keep in touch with customers and suppliers through the UMTS network.


UMTS Guide