Today there are two types of users in mobile phones they are GSM (Global System for Mobile) and Communications and Code division multiple access (CDMA). What is the difference between GSM and CDMA? The comparison of GSM vs CDMA is very useful and interesting from buyer’s as well as student’s perspective. The following article on GSM vs CDMA will help you to understand the differences between these two technologies.

GSM is an acronym for Groupe Special Mobile, which has now been changed to Global System for Mobile Communication. CDMA refers to Code Division Multiple Access. The working of GSM and CDMA is very different. But the end result, after the implementation of the two technologies, is highly similar and matching in many ways. This article will try to highlight the subtle differences between the two technologies.

GSM vs CDMA Technology

GSM is a very straight forward standard, whereas, CDMA is somewhat complicated. The key difference between the two is that GSM is a standard and CDMA is a technology, but GSM has attained some technology status over the years. So, what is the difference between GSM and CDMA? Read on to find out.

GSM Explained
GSM is a ‘cellular’ technology, that is, the entire coverage area is divided into various hexagonal shaped cells (hence the popular name ‘cell phones’). Every cell has a corresponding network tower, which serves the mobile phones in that cellular area. For example: Imagine a honeycomb on a tree in a hexagonal shaped garden. The garden has many flowers. The honeybees collect the nectar from the flowers, and deposit it in the honeycomb. Your mobile phones are like the flowers, the network tower is like honeycomb, and the bees are the signals.

CDMA Explained
As the name suggests (Code Division Multiple Access), there are many devices which use the same spread spectrum (hence multiple access). There is one physical channel, and a special code for every device in the coverage network. Using this code, the signal of the device is multiplexed, and the same physical channel is used to send the signal (the codes may or may not change). For example: There is a street on which many buses ply. Obviously, the bus will have many commuters, and they will have to buy the tickets to travel on the bus. In CDMA, the commuter is like your mobile phone, the tickets are your codes, the bus is a multiplexed carrier signal, and the street is the spread spectrum.

GSM vs CDMA Comparison

Call Quality: This is an area where CDMA scores substantially over GSM. Statistics are hugely in favor of CDMA. Various factors such as echoes, call dropping, or voice distortion are almost non-existent in CDMA, whereas in GSM, there is a high probability of errors. To give you an analogy, the bus on the street will continue to ply even when it’s full, but if the honeycomb has reached full capacity, the honey cannot be deposited.

GSM vs CDMA Call Qality Score: CDMA scores. Goal count 0-1.

Carriers: GSM is one up on CDMA as far as carriers are concerned. The law requires CDMA carriers to provide handsets to users, for which the users cannot change their carriers. Whereas, GSM users can change their carriers whenever they want.

GSM vs CDMA Carriers Score: GSM scores. Goal count 1-1.

Network: It’s an on-going battle between the two. Both the technologies are continuously improving the qualities of their network and adding various aspects to it as well.

GSM vs CDMA Network Score: Both score. Goal count 2-2.

Worldwide: There is a special number that every GSM compatible device in the world can call in case of an emergency. That number is 112. But in CDMA, this cannot be implemented because of certain technological limitations.

GSM vs CDMA Worldwide Score: GSM scores. Goal count 3-2

Battery Life: GSM, being a relatively simpler technology, uses less amount of cell phone battery than CDMA.

GSM vs CDMA Battery Life Score: GSM scores. Goal count 4-2

Coverage: GSM and CDMA, both have similar network coverage areas. They are present almost everywhere. The service providers of both technologies are striving hard to cover whatever inches that are left.

GSM vs CDMA Coverage Score: Both score. Goal count 5-3

Speed: Both GSM and CDMA are rapidly improving their capabilities in this regard. Both have introduced 3G mobile phones in their fold. Both are competing to gain space in this area.

GSM vs CDMA Speed Score: Both score. Goal count 6-4

Building Penetration: Again, in initial days, both technologies couldn’t find building penetration, but after research in signaling systems, and through experience, service providers of both technologies have been able to give decent service to the mobile phones in buildings.

GSM vs CDMA Penetration Score: Both score. Goal count 7-5

GSM vs CDMA: Which is Better?

Both have their good qualities and bad qualities. GSM has some limitations where call quality is concerned, but GSM can be easily implemented and easily integrated into existing technology. Whereas, CDMA is little difficult to implement.

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