The term 3G in reference to new technology, including 3G radio, stands for 3rd generation. The term 3G is most commonly used in direct relation to cell phone and hand-held device technology. 3G radio in particular refers to the 3G technology with which most new cellular phones are equipped; this technology allows the user to access the Internet through his or her cell phone signal and listen to streaming radio from a host of sources well outside the range of typical local radio signals. With 3G radio technology enabled on a hand held device, a user may be able to stream radio broadcasts from around the world through the phone’s Internet access, as long as the phone or device the user has is in an area where a 3G signal is available through the phone’s service provider.
3G technology, and by extension 3G radio, is not exclusive to cellular telephones. In fact, since the development of the 3G networks, Internet access has been made available on a broad array of devices. The network allows any 3G-equipped electronic device, such as a personal mp3 player, to stream radio from the Internet using 3G technology. PDA, or Personal Digital Assistant, devices have also been equipped with 3G technology and can access 3G radio; since most new cellular phones are considered “smart phones,” however, and are able to handle a broad array of tasks, including applications that function very much like a PDA, the use of a PDA device that is not a telephone has been all but eliminated.
3G technology is easy to use and streams music from "radio stations" available on the Internet similarly to the way satellite radio works. 3G radio can be commercial free, but such service often requires users to pay for a subscription. Free 3G stations and radio players do exist, but on those stations, ads are common and the user may have less flexibility as far as choosing stations or particular music.
With the rate of advancement in cell phone technology, 3G technology may become obsolete, as 4G technology is emerging very quickly on the technological frontier. With a device that has been equipped with 4G technology, not only can the user stream radio using the device's Internet capabilities, but a wireless Internet signal can also be broadcast from the 4G device. This allows the user to stream 3G radio through his or her device while also broadcasting an Internet signal that lets him or her access the Internet for another purpose simultaneously.