What is 3GP?

As technology continues to move forward at an ever-increasing rate, one of the latest additions to the mobile communication industry is the 3G phone. With this comes the launch of a new file format known as 3gp, which is a video file format used to watch, share and record video via the mobile phone network.

3G stands for 3rd Generation and is the terminology used to mean the next generation of mobile phone technology. This new standard allows for high-speed data transfer over digital wireless networks and has a much higher bandwidth than its predecessors, meaning it can transfer greater amounts of data at a faster rate.

1st Generation relates to analogue technology and was introduced in the 1970s, followed by 2nd Generation digital in the 1990s. 2G allowed facilities such as text messaging through mobile phone networks.

This latest addition, 3G, allows users to carry out activities such as multimedia sharing, internet browsing, watching videos, sending and receiving emails, and video conferencing on 3rd Generation compliant mobile phones.

The format used with 3G, 3gp, is a multimedia container format meaning several different types of files, including audio and video, are stored within the one single file. These files also contain information relating to the bitrate, which is the size and length of time needed to download the images stored. The format is based on a simplified version of the MP4 or MPEG-4 technology and was designed to decrease the size of the files used and the amount of bandwidth needed in order to suit mobile devices.

The Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and the Third Generation Partnership Project 2 (3GPP2) defined the format. These are separate collaboration agreements between various countries, with the aim being to standardize mobile phone formats, allowing uniform delivery of multimedia over newly emerging broadband mobile networks, otherwise known as 3rd Generation networks.

There are two separate worldwide standards for the 3gp format depending on the type of mobile phone. 3GPP with the files extension .3gp is used for GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) based phones and 3GPP2, file extension .3g2 for CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) mobiles. GSM is the most common standard and the easiest way to tell the difference between the two is that GSM phones require a sim card whilst a CDMA mobile doesn’t.

3gp videos can be transferred to a computer and watched on Windows, Mac and Linux platforms via applications such as Real Player, Media Player and Quick Time. Many software programs are now available that will convert 3gp files into most other formats, allowing the videos to be watched, shared and received through any type of platform. Conversion of other formats to 3gp is also possible and the software to do so is widely and easily available on the Internet.