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Difference Between UMTS and WCDMA Network Technologies

UMTS vs WCDMA Network Technologies

The third generation of technologies for mobile networks has added a lot of new features aside from the typical calling and messaging capabilities of older 2G networks. With them come a number of new terminologies that can seem confusing. Two of these technologies are UMTS and WCDMA. The main difference between UMTS and WCDMA is that the former is a cellular technology while the latter is one of the air interfaces that it used in order to communicate with the actual device.

UMTS stands for Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, and it succeeds the older GSM networks. It significantly increases data speeds up to 45Mbps with HSPA+ activated, but most deployments offer maximum speeds of 7Mbps. Aside from WCDMA, which is the most popular air interface in use in mobile networks, there are also other air interfaces that include UTRA-TDD HCR and TD-SCDMA. These three air interfaces behave in different manners while achieving the same exact goal; facilitating the flow of data from a mobile device to the base station over the air.

The specifics are handled by WCDMA or the Wideband Code Division Multiple Access, which is based on CDMA, a competing standard to GSM. It utilizes two 5MHz channels, one for the downlink (from base station to mobile device) and another for the uplink (from the mobile device to the base station). The 5MHz channel is a fourfold increase when compared to the 1.25MHz channel used by the older CDMA standard. The increased bandwidth is aided by a variety of multiplexing techniques in order to increase the number of users who can be accommodated on the channel while increasing the total bandwidth that can be utilized for the data.

The prominent use of WCDMA has made it synonymous to UMTS. When using either term, most people are actually referring to the very same thing. The use of one or the other is widely accepted, and there should be no worries that you may be using the incorrect term.


1.UMTS is a cellular technology while WCDMA is one of its air interfaces.
2.UMTS and WCDMA are often used interchangeably.

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1 Comment

  1. What is the chip rate of W-CDMA

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