The Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) is a third generation mobile cellular system for networks based on the GSM standard. Developed and maintained by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project), UMTS is a component of the International Telecommunications Union IMT-2000 standard set and compares with the CDMA2000 standard set for networks based on the competing cdmaOne technology. UMTS uses wideband code division multiple access (W-CDMA) radio access technology to offer greater spectral efficiency and bandwidth to mobile network operators.
UMTS specifies a complete network system, which includes the radio access network (UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access Network, or UTRAN), the core network (Mobile Application Part, or MAP) and the authentication of users via SIM (subscriber identity module) cards.
The technology described in UMTS is sometimes also referred to as Freedom of Mobile Multimedia Access (FOMA) or 3GSM.
Unlike EDGE (IMT Single-Carrier, based on GSM) and CDMA2000 (IMT Multi-Carrier), UMTS requires new base stations and new frequency allocations.