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Why would you want 3G?

Although people are well aware of 3G technology, less people are actually considering using it. Could it be there just isn't the need? Should carriers be focussing their efforts elsewhere -- like regional areas?

commentary Although people are well aware of 3G technology, less people are actually considering using it. Could it be there just isn't the need? Should carriers be focussing their efforts elsewhere -- like regional areas?

While a Nielsen Media survey this week showed a significant growth in 3G awareness -- from 3.95 million Australians aware of third-generation mobile phone technology last December to five million in March -- it also revealed a decline in the amount of people actually considering using 3G.

"Many Australians don't have a clear idea about what 3G is, and it's certainly not something they will just buy because it is new technology," Nielsen Media associate director Jody Loughlin told news agency AAP.

"This is suggested by the decline in the March 2006 survey in the number of mobile phone owners and users who said they considered using 3G."

But is it a case of not understanding what 3G can offer -- things like video calling, streaming video content, and more bandwidth for faster ringtone / music downloads -- or the fact that a large number of Australians have no need (and no desire to pay) for these types of services?

For many people, a mobile phone is just a phone -- not an MP3 or video player, e-mailer, radio or storage device. What matters is good coverage, no network congestion, decent call quality and the ability to send text messages.

While 3G networks can support such things, many users have no real need to switch, and considering how poor many 3G handsets in terms of battery life, it's often hard to recommend 3G phones -- unless of course it makes sense financially.

If you would like to know more about 3G, including the history of mobile phone networks in Australia and a 3G jargon glossary, check out CNET.com.au's Quick Guide to 3G.

Have you considered a 3G mobile then decided against it? Was there a particular feature that sold 3G for you? E-mail your thoughts on 3G to cnet@cnet.com.au.