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UMTS combines three different terrestrial air interfaces, GSM's Mobile Application Part (MAP) core, and the GSM family of speech codecs.
The air interfaces are called UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access (UTRA).
The technology described in UMTS is sometimes also referred to as Freedom of Mobile Multimedia Access (FOMA) Users in deployed networks can expect a transfer rate of up to 384 kbit/s for Release '99 (R99) handsets (the original UMTS release), and 7.2 Mbit/s for High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) handsets in the downlink connection.
These speeds are significantly faster than the 9.6 kbit/s of a single GSM error-corrected circuit switched data channel, multiple 9.6 kbit/s channels in High-Speed Circuit-Switched Data (HSCSD) and 14.4 kbit/s for CDMAOne channels.
Later NTT Do Co Mo submitted the specification to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as a candidate for the international 3G standard known as IMT-2000.
In the currently most popular variant for cellular mobile telephones, W-CDMA (IMT Direct Spread) is used.Since 2006, UMTS networks in many countries have been or are in the process of being upgraded with High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), sometimes known as 3.5G.