ITU has not provided a clear definition of the data rate users can expect from 3G equipment or providers. Thus users sold 3G service may not be able to point to a standard and say that the rates it specifies are not being met. While stating in commentary that "it is expected that IMT-2000 will provide higher transmission rates: a minimum data rate of 2 Mbit/s for stationary or walking users, and 384 kbit/s in a moving vehicle," the ITU does not actually clearly specify minimum or average rates or what modes of the interfaces qualify as 3G, so various rates are sold as 3G intended to meet customers expectations of broadband data.
3G networks offer greater security than their 2G predecessors. By allowing the UE (User Equipment) to authenticate the network it is attaching to, the user can be sure the network is the intended one and not an impersonator. 3G networks use the KASUMI block crypto instead of the older A5/1 stream cipher. However, a number of serious weaknesses in the KASUMI cipher have been identified .
In addition to the 3G network infrastructure security, end-to-end security is offered when application frameworks such as IMS are accessed, although this is not strictly a 3G property.
The bandwidth and location information available to 3G devices gives rise to applications not previously available to mobile phone users. Some of the applications are:
- Mobile TV – a provider redirects a TV channel directly to the subscriber's phone where it can be watched.
- Video on demand – a provider sends a movie to the subscriber's phone.
- Video conferencing – subscribers can see as well as talk to each other.
- Tele-medicine – a medical provider monitors or provides advice to the potentially isolated subscriber.
- Location-based services – a provider sends localized weather or traffic conditions to the phone, or the phone allows the subscriber to find nearby businesses or friends.