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Difference Between CDMA and GSM

cdma-phoneWhen we buy a mobile phone, we usually don’t concern ourselves with the standards or technologies that our mobile phone uses. This is more so when we buy mobile phones that have the standard contract from the phone company, since it is 100% assured that it would function with that network. But in case you did not know, there are 2 very prominent technologies around the world. The first is GSM (Global System Mobile) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access).

The problem with these two technologies is that they are not really compatible and mobile phones that were made for one network would not necessarily work on the other. It shouldn’t really be a problem for you unless you travel outside your usual area or possibly outside the country. But in case you do travel around a lot, it might be better if you have a GSM mobile phone in tow since GSM holds a much bigger share of the mobile phone industry. And you should also consider this when buying a mobile phone from abroad. I know a couple of people who bought CDMA mobile phones when the whole country they were in was on GSM.

Technology wise, CDMA was supposed to be more advanced compared to GSM, but the hold of GSM over the market has already been cemented in the years that it was ahead making it impossible for CDMA to totally replace GSM. With regards to the third generation of mobile phones, it became apparent that GSM would not be able to compete with CDMA in terms of speed. Therefore it became apparent that GSM would have to move to CDMA. But the people who run GSM networks made a move that still made the two networks incompatible, by deploying WCDMA (Wideband CDMA) or UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service) as it is known in Europe. This standard is still incompatible with EV-DO which was the next step for the CDMA crowd.

The battle between this two has long abandoned the technology aspect which was how it started, but now it is all about market share. Although in the technology side GSM seems to be gaining the upper hand with 3.6Mbps for UMTS and 7.2 for the later HSDPA, compared to the 2.4Mbps of EV-DO and 5.2Mbps of EV-DV which are the current competing technologies. Although it seems that CDMA isn’t going to be able to compete with GSM superiority in the mobile phone market, it is still unclear whether CDMA is actually going away.

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