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Difference between GSM and CDMA

Last Updated : 11 Feb, 2024
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GSM stands for Global System for Mobile Communication Voices, while CDMA stands for Code Division Multiple Access. GSM uses FDMA (Frequency division multiple access) and TDMA (Time division multiple access). GSM supports transmitting data and voices both at once, but CDMA does have not this feature. In contrast, only mobile phones from a set of whitelisted companies can be used with a CDMA network. 

What is CDMA?

CDMA is an acronym for Code Division Multiple Access, which is also a radio telecommunication standard similar to GSM. It is based on the spread spectrum technology and makes optimal use of the available bandwidth.

In a CDMA system, each user’s signal is combined with a unique broadcast code, which transmits the signal in a wider bandwidth than the original data signal. CDMA technology offers many advantages, such as increased capacity, improved call quality, better security due to unique codes used for each user, increased resistance to interference and fading, and CDMA is widely used in wireless networks, including 2G, 3G, . some are 4G cellular networks. However, in many parts of the world, it has largely been replaced by other technologies such as GSM and LTE.



Advantages of CDMA

  • It makes effective use of a fixed frequency spectrum.
  • The quantity of Users is unrestricted.
  • It offers an adaptable distribution of resources.
  • Because it works with other cellular technologies, roaming across the country is possible.

Disadvantages of CDMA

  • Time synchronisation is necessary.
  • It is unable to provide international roaming, a significant GSM benefit.
  • The more users there are, the worse the CDMA system performs.
  • Since CDMA networks are relatively new compared to GSM networks, they are not mature.
  • When utilising CDMA, code length should be carefully chosen as it may cause a delay.
  • The general quality of the service declines as the user base grows.

What is GSM?

A digital mobile communication standard called GSM, or Global System for Mobile Communication, is used to send and receive speech and data signals over a network. It uses a wedge spectrum and is also referred to as the second-generation standard for telecommunication or mobile networks. Other wireless services including UMTS (Universal Mobile Radio System), EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) have developed as a result of the GSM standard.



Advantages of GSM

  • We can have inexpensive base stations and mobile sets thanks to GSM technology.
  • Enhancement of spectrum efficiency is achieved.
  • In GSM, the speech or data signals are of excellent quality.
  • The GSM and ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) work together.

Disadvantages of GSM

  • Multiple users sharing the same bandwidth can generate bandwidth delays and interface issues for the transmission.
  • It may cause interference with some gadgets, including those that use pulse transmission technology, such hearing aids. As a result, many places have policies requiring cell phones to be turned off, including hospitals, airports and gas stations.
  • Installing repeaters is necessary to improve coverage.
  • Because of its low data rate capacity, sophisticated GSM devices are utilised when high data rates are required.
  • Since Qualcomm owns many patents on GSM technology, a licence from them is required.
  • Because there isn’t a large enough market for manufacturers to release IS-95 devices, IS-95 is often deployed in tiny towers.

Differences Between GSM and CDMA

Parameters GSM CDMA
Full form global Global System for Mobile communication. Code Division Multiple Access.
Technology used FDMA(Frequency Division Multiple Access) & TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access). CDMA(Code Division Multiple Access).
Availability GSM is globally widely used and available. CDMA is available in fewer countries and carriers.
Data speed rate 42Mbps in HSPA (3G). 3.6Mbps in CDMA.
Features GSM supports transmitting data and voice both at once. CDMA does not support this feature.
Customer Information Stored in a SIM card. Stored in a headset or phone.
Encryption GSM does not provide built-in encryption is available. CDMA provides built-in encryption. 
Secure GSM offers less secure communication. CDMS offers secure communication. 
Roaming GSM enables worldwide roaming. CDMA enables limited roaming. 
Signal Detection GSM signals can be detected since they are focused in a narrow bandwidth.  CDMA transmissions are difficult to detect.
SIM Card There is always a requirement of SIM card for a GSM device to function.  There are no such requirements for CDMA phones.
Flexibility When a SIM on a phone stops working, we can use another SIM rather than purchasing a new phone. We have to buy a new phone when a CDMA one stops working.
Type of Spectrum GSM technology operates on a wedge spectrum known as carrier.  CDMA technology is based on spread spectrum technology.
MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) method GSM follows 2*2 MIMO.  LTE adheres to 8*8, 4*4 MIMO and also supports cooperative MIMO and multi-user MIMO.

Frequently Asked Question on CDMA and GSM – FAQs

What is CDMA?

CDMA is an acronym for Code Division Multiple Access, which is also a radio telecommunication standard similar to GSM.

What is GSM?

A digital mobile communication standard called GSM, or Global System for Mobile Communication, is used to send and receive speech and data signals over a network

Are CDMA and GSM networks compatible with each other?

GSM phones can only be used with 2G/3G GSM networks, however CDMA phones can be used with both 2G and 3G CDMA networks. Thus, it is not possible to use your CDMA device on a GSM network.

Can I switch my phone between CDMA and GSM networks?

Due to the fact that GSM and CDMA networks employ distinct technologies for data and voice transmission, they are typically incompatible.

Is 4G LTE a form of CDMA or GSM technology?

As a distinct cellular technology that offers a 4G migration path to 3G networks on CDMA and GSM tracks, 4G LTE is neither CDMA nor GSM.

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