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3G stands for third generation mobile phone technology. Like GPRS, 3G phone systems can transmit both voice and data, such as emails and digital photos. Unlike GPRS, 3G systems can transfer data at high speed up to or even above 2Mbit/s, allowing users to access and send videos, browse the Internet at high speed, make video-calls and more.

Data Roaming

Data-Roaming is the same as roaming, except you are using your mobile phone abroad to access data services, such as browsing the Web or email.

Destination Country

The country (other than your home country) in which you are travelling, i.e. roaming.

ERG - European Regulators Group

The European Regulators Group was set up to smooth cooperation between the national regulatory authorities of each EU Member State and the European Commission, in order to achieve consistent application of the new legislation on electronic communications in all Member States (see ‘the Bigger Picture’). The ERG’s members are the heads of each relevant national regulatory authority. Its secretariat is hosted by the Commission in Brussels.


General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is the first mobile telephony system to allow users to both make voice calls and transfer data at reasonable speeds, allowing them to browse the internet, use email and transfer digital photographs and other files on the move. It is often known as ‘2.5G’ - an intermediate step between ‘second generation’ GSM mobile phones and high-speed ‘third generation’ (3G) services.


The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) is the most common worldwide standard for mobile phones - GSM phones are used by over a billion people in more than 200 countries. The standard was created through EU-funded research and adopted across Europe thanks to EU legislation and regulation, turning European companies into world leaders in mobile telephony and allowing affordable mobile phones and calls for everyone – see ‘the Bigger Picture’.

Home Operator

The mobile phone company of which you are currently a subscriber or pre-paid customer in your home country.

Host Operator

The mobile phone company in the destination country on whose network you are roaming.


Information and communications technologies receive, store, retrieve, process and transmit information in digital form. The term covers both hardware and software, and reflects the fact that information can now be digitised – turned into the digital language of computers. As a result, material as diverse as digital photographs and industrial designs can be transmitted over the Internet and other communications systems, and worked on by computers. This is driving the convergence of telecommunications, computing and broadcasting.


Each Member State has a National Regulatory Authority (NRA), an independent body overseeing its country's national telecommunications legislation. Its role is to ensure the efficient application of regulation, contributing to competition between telecom operators and driving down prices for consumers and businesses. A list of all NRAs in the EU is available.

Peak Times

Peak times typically refer to calls made between 8am and 7pm during the week (from Monday to Friday), although some operators may define them differently. Peak time calls can be significantly more expensive than those made during other periods.

Pre-paid and post-paid

There are two ways of paying for the use of a mobile phone. In the pre-paid model, you simply buy a card of a certain value entitling you to a certain amount of phone minutes. While there is generally no commitment to a certain mobile phone operator, rates are usually higher than with a post-paid mobile phones, where you ‘sign up’ with one operator for a period of time and pay for your calls after you make them, generally at the end of the month. Most operators offer both models.

Radio Spectrum

Every wireless application that transmits or receives information, ranging from satellite or terrestrial television station to the key ring gadget which opens the car by remote control, uses the radio spectrum. It is an increasingly scarce resource in the Information Society, so the European Commission is working with the Member States on managing its use more efficiently. See ‘The Bigger Picture’ for more information.

Roaming ("International Roaming")

You are roaming when you use your mobile phone when abroad – hence the term 'international roaming'.

SIM card

A subscriber identity module (SIM) is a small card containing a computer chip (a 'chipcard'), containing a key identifying a mobile phone subscriber. SIM Cards are typically used in GSM phones. The card also contains memory for personal information, such as text messages, calendar functions or phone numbers.


Short message service (SMS) is a service available on most digital mobile phones that permit the sending of short messages (also known as SMSes, text messages, messages, or more colloquial texts) between mobile phones, other handheld devices and even landline telephones.


Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) is one of the third-generation (3G) mobile phone technologies. UMTS is one among a number of 3G technologies used in different parts of the world. UMTS combines the 3G nature of the technology and the GSM standard which it was designed to succeed.