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CDMA Vs. GSM – Which is More Preferable?


Human hand holding mobile phones
Image by Catherine MacBride/Moment/Getty Images

The ongoing battle between AT&T and the Verizon iPhone has whipped up a fundamental issue for users and developers alike. As we all know, the AT&T iPhone supports the GSM band, while the Verizon iPhone is a CDMA device. So which of these technologies is better and why?

Current Status

Both these cellular technologies have advantages and disadvantages. The divide between Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) is quite ancient. The AT&T vs. Verizon war has only intensified what was already simmering under the surface.


History of CDMA Technology

CDMA technology dates right back to the pre-WWII America. Invented by Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil in the 1940s, it was used to control the movement of torpedoes by means of using multiple radio frequencies.

The military used this as their standard means of communication, as it let them make completely secure broadcasts.

Known during that time as frequency-hopping, this technology kept changing and evolving till it reached its present-day status. CDMA was patented by Qualcomm and then adopted by all other telecom companies through the course of time.

Today, CDMA is vital to carriers such as Sprint, Verizon and GTE.

History of GSM Technology

The greatest disadvantage of CDMA tech is its lack of reach, especially in the European market. This is the region where GSM connectivity rules. While CDMA tech is prevalent in most parts of North America and many pockets of Asia, GSM is widespread in Western Europe.

The core technology used by GSM is TDMA or Time Division Multiple Access. Europe and Asia enjoy the maximum number of wireless users. Hence, GSM, which is majorly available in these regions, has emerged as the world leader in cellular communication.

Of the major operators, Nokia and Ericsson emerged the leading GSM carriers.

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