CDMA vs. GSM: What’s the Difference and Which Does Your Phone Use?
When it comes to mobile phone technology, there are two major players in the industry: CDMA and GSM. CDMA stands for Code Division Multiple Access while GSM stands for Global System for Mobile Communications. While both technologies serve the same end purpose, the way in which they do so is significantly different. In this article, we will explore the differences between CDMA and GSM and which one your phone is likely to be using.
The Basics of CDMA
CDMA is a digital cellular technology that was developed in the early 1990s by Qualcomm. It works by assigning a unique code to each conversation between two parties, hence the name Code Division Multiple Access. These codes then allow multiple conversations to happen simultaneously on the same channel without interference. CDMA is primarily used in North America and parts of Asia, including Japan and South Korea.
The Basics of GSM
GSM is a digital cellular technology that was developed in the late 1980s by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). GSM uses a system of time division multiple access (TDMA) to transmit and receive signals. TDMA divides each frequency into different time slots, with each slot assigned to a particular user. This allows multiple users to share the same frequency without interference. GSM is used in the majority of the world, including Europe, Africa, and much of Asia.
The Differences Between CDMA and GSM
The main difference between CDMA and GSM lies in how they handle data. GSM devices use SIM (subscriber identity module) cards, which contain all the information needed to identify and authenticate the user on the network. CDMA devices, on the other hand, do not require SIM cards as they identify the user by the phone’s unique electronic serial number (ESN).
Another important difference between CDMA and GSM lies in their data transfer speeds. CDMA offers theoretical 3G data transfer speeds of up to 14.4Mbps, while GSM only offers theoretical 3G speeds of up to 384Kbps. Today, 4G LTE has largely replaced 3G, with peak speeds of up to 1Gbps on both CDMA and GSM networks.
Which One Does Your Phone Use?
The easiest way to determine whether your phone uses CDMA or GSM is to check with your carrier or manufacturer. In the United States, Verizon, Sprint, and US Cellular use CDMA technology, while AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM. Other countries around the world may use different technologies, so it’s important to do your research before traveling internationally.
In recent years, there has been a push towards universal mobile standards that work on both CDMA and GSM networks. This has resulted in the growing popularity of “world phones” that can work on multiple networks around the world. These types of devices are particularly popular with international travelers who frequently switch between different networks in different countries.