What is 3GPP?

The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is a collaboration between groups of telecommunications associations, to make a globally applicable third-generation (3G) mobile phone system specification within the scope of the International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 project of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). 3GPP specifications are based on evolved Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) specifications. 3GPP standardization encompasses Radio, Core Network and Service architecture.[1]

The groups are the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, Association of Radio Industries and Businesses/Telecommunication Technology Committee (ARIB/TTC) (Japan), China Communications Standards Association,[2] Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (North America) and Telecommunications Technology Association (South Korea).[1] The project was established in December 1998.

3GPP should not be confused with 3rd Generation Partnership Project 2 (3GPP2), which specifies standards for another 3G technology based on IS-95 (CDMA), commonly known as CDMA2000.

3GPP Scope

The original scope of 3GPP was to produce Technical Specifications and Technical Reports for a 3G Mobile System based on evolved GSM core networks and the radio access technologies that they support (i.e., Universal Terrestrial Radio Access (UTRA) both Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) and Time Division Duplex (TDD) modes).

The scope was subsequently amended to include the maintenance and development of the Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) Technical Specifications and Technical Reports including evolved radio access technologies (e.g. General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE)).

3GPP was created in December 1998 by the signing of the “The 3rd Generation Partnership Project Agreement“. The latest 3GPP Scope and Objectives document has evolved from this original Agreement.

The discussions that led to the signing of the 3GPP Agreement were recorded in a series of slides called the “Partnership Project Description” that describes the basic principles and ideas on which the project is based. The Partnership Project Description has not been maintained since its first creation but the principles of operation of the project still remain valid.