Difference between 3GP and 3GPP

Key difference: 3GP is a multimedia container format mainly for 3G UMTS multimedia services. It was developed by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). 3GPP, on the other hand, is the collaboration between global telecommunications associations. It scope was to create a global third generation (3G) mobile phone system specification based on GSM specifications as defined by the ITU’s IMT-2000 project.

3GP is a multimedia container format mainly for 3G UMTS multimedia services. It was developed by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). It is commonly used on 3G mobile phones; however, some 2G and 4G phones use it as well.

A container file specifies how the data streams inside it are organized. The actual organization and representation of the data streams are done by the various types of codecs (encoder/decoder). It is the codecs that affects video quality and compression. It describes how video or audio data is to be compressed and decompressed. Each container file will differ only on the basis of which codec is used.

3GP is part of the 3GPP Standards and is a container file for various audio and video file formats. It was designed and is still mainly used for IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), Multimedia Broadcast/Multicast Service (MBMS) and Transparent end-to-end Packet-switched Streaming Service (PSS).

Similar to the MP4 container file format, 3GP was also based on the ISO base media file format defined in MPEG-4 Part 12. However, older versions of the 3GP file format did not use some of its features. Most 3GP files use the filename extension .3gp; however some cell phones use the extension .mp4 for the same 3GP files.

The 3GP file format was designed mainly for GSM-based phones. The format was designed to decrease storage and bandwidth requirements in order for the video/audio files to be accommodated for mobile phones

Usually the 3GP container file contains H.263 (MPEG-4 Part 2) encoded video; however H.264 (MPEG-4 Part 10/ AVC) encoded video are getting more common as well. In audio, 3GP usually contains various AMR, AAC and ACC+ formats.

3GPP, on the other hand, is the collaboration between global telecommunications associations. 3GPP stands for 3rd Generation Partnership Project and its website states that the project’s scope “was to produce Technical Specifications and Technical Reports for a 3G Mobile System based on evolved GSM core networks and the radio access technologies that they support (i.e., Universal Terrestrial Radio Access (UTRA) both Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) and Time Division Duplex (TDD) modes).” Basically, to create a global third generation (3G) mobile phone system specification based on GSM specifications as defined by the ITU’s IMT-2000 project.

The website continues, “The scope was subsequently amended to include the maintenance and development of the Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) Technical Specifications and Technical Reports including evolved radio access technologies (e.g. General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE)).”

3GPP was created in December 1998 by the signing of the "The 3rd Generation Partnership Project Agreement" by the “Organizational Partners”. The organizational partners, i.e. the global telecommunications associations included:

  • Association of Radio Industries and Businesses (ARIB)
  • China Communications Standards Association (CCSA)
  • European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)
  • Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS)
  • Telecommunication Technology Committee (TTC)
  • Telecommunications Technology Association (TTA)

3GPP was eventually followed by 3GPP2. 3GPP2 stands for Third Generation Partnership Project 2. 3GPP2 was the second collaboration between global telecommunications associations. As 3GPP defines the standard for GSM based phones, 3GPP2 defines the standard for CDMA based phones. 3GPP2 was responsible for creating the 3G2 format. The filename extension for 3G2 is .3g2.

Image Courtesy: iconhot.com, 3gpp.org

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