UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service) is a third-generation (3G) broadband, packet-based transmission of text, digitized voice, video, and multimedia at data rates up to 2 megabits per second (Mbps). UMTS offers a consistent set of services to mobile computer and phone users, no matter where they are located in the world. UMTS is based on the Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication standard. It is also endorsed by major standards bodies and manufacturers as the planned standard for mobile users around the world. Once UMTS is fully available, computer and phone users can be constantly attached to the Internet wherever they travel and, as they roam, will have the same set of capabilities. Users will have access through a combination of terrestrial wireless and satellite transmissions. Until UMTS is fully implemented, users can use multi-mode devices that switch to the currently available technology (such as GSM 900 and 1800) where UMTS is not yet available.
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Previous cellular telephone systems were mainly circuit-switched, meaning connections were always dependent on circuit availability. A packet-switched connection uses the Internet Protocol (IP), meaning that a virtual connection is always available to any other end point in the network. UMTS also makes it possible to provide new services like alternative billing methods or calling plans. For instance, users can choose to pay-per-bit, pay-per-session, flat rate, or asymmetric bandwidth options. The higher bandwidth of UMTS also enables other new services like video conferencing or IPTV. UMTS may allow the Virtual Home Environment (VHE) to fully develop, where a roaming user can have the same services to either at home, in the office or in the field through a combination of transparent terrestrial and satellite connections.
The electromagnetic radiation spectrum for UMTS has been identified as frequency bands 1885-2025 MHz for future IMT-2000 systems, and 1980-2010 MHz and 2170-2200 MHz for the satellite portion of UMTS systems.