Cell Phone Technologies



What exactly are GSM, CDMA and LTE? Most people understand that these terms refer to cellular network technology but they are little more than buzzwords.

GSM and CDMA are two different technologies which were developed in the early 90s for 2G networks along with the second generation of cell phones. The two connectivity options were different. As the engineers could not decide which one was better, the Federal Communications Commission decided on incorporating both types of networks in a dual mode. This means the US consumers need to choose between CDMA and GSM when they sign up for service.  The rest of the world, however, decided simply on GSM.

With improvements in technology in the 3G era, both CDMA and GSM improved and the FCC chose to retain the dual mode. With the 4G era arriving, a new system was created called the LTE network.

Most of the new phones in the market use LTE for data while GSM and CDMA are still used for voice calls and texting. This means US consumers still need to decide between either of the two cellular technologies. But with the advent of 4G and 5G technologies, voice and text capabilities are being added to LTE, making GSM and CDMA to be soon obsolete.

The primary reason why GSM is preferred over CDMA around the world is because of the fact that GSM phones use removable SIM cards. SIM cards port the phone number and the plan across phones.

CDMA phones have embedded serial numbers which must be linked to the carrier. This makes one’s phone tied to the carrier and switching between carriers becomes difficult.

The LTE technology also uses SIM cards like GSM and is expected to replace GSM and CDMA in the near future. Therefore, it will soon be easier for the US consumers to switch between carriers using the same physical phone.


About the Author:

Amita Vadlamudi has worked in the Information Technology Field for over 3 decades, supporting IBM mainframes and Unix computer systems. Amita Vadlamudi’s current interests are researching and writing about various technologies.