What are GSM and CDMA?

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GSM refers to the series of telecommunications standards originally defined as an unified cellular network architecture in Europe, but now used by carriers across the globe, including the US. A nice tutorial describing the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) can be found at this IEC website. GSM has evolved quite a bit since its creation in the early 1990s -- for example, GRPS and EDGE are descendents of GSM.

Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) is an alternative to GSM, originally developed as a proprietary cellular technology by Qualcomm but subsequently used as the basis for new international telecommunications standards, including the ITU's CDMA2000 specifications. There are numerous websites where you can learn more about GSM, CDMA, and their 3G successors -- for example, see Wikipedia's mobile telephony index for links to articles about these and many related technologies.

This was first published in May 2005

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