Comparison of CDMA vs. GSM

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Difference between CDMA and GSM

In the world of mobile phone technology, newer and more advanced systems crop up with amazing regularity, many of which render the previous systems obsolete. The mobile phone scene is a fast paced one and it seems that there is always a desire to make things better, faster, and more powerful. In the case of CDMA and GSM, the line between where one takes over from the other isn't quite as clearly defined, and there is a fair bit of overlap in their shelf lives. Let's take a look at what each has to offer.



It is important to realize that the CDMA and GSM specs generally aren't compatible with each other, and devices such as mobile phones that are intended to work for either network would not work with the other. If you do a lot of traveling, a GSM capable device would probably be a better idea, given the larger number of supporting networks. This is particularly important when traveling overseas, since most countries are still on the GSM network, in spite of the technological superiority of the CDMA network.


In terms of sheer technology, CDMA obviously has the edge over GSM. Nevertheless, GSM manages to retain a healthy portion of its user base, many of who are reluctant to move over to CDMA. Nevertheless, the release of many 3rd generation phones that make full use of CDMA’s capabilities has made the network’s advantages come to the fore. Speed is only one of the many advantages that CDMA has over GSM and for the rich content hungry masses; this just may be enough to convince them to make the switch. In any case, it appears that congruence between the two networks is as yet a distant vision what with the introduction of the next evolutionary step of GSM, WCDMA or Wideband CDMA. Its about as far removed from the new EV-DO as you can get. EV-DO in turn is the next generation CDMA system.

Market Impact

While the race between the two was once to win out the market with better features, the seeming equality of both has made it more about which one has the most market appeal. Nevertheless, the 3.6Mbps performance of the GSM-based UMTS shows that the network isn't going down without a fight. In spite of the GSM hold on the market however, CDMA is expected to come up with more innovative versions in the future and it is likely here to stay…at least until the next round of combatants!



  • 3G-based technology
  • Faster data speeds than GSM
  • Is expected to replace GSM eventually
  • Offers more features and capabilities than GSM devices


  • 2G-based technology
  • Slowly being phased out in favor of CDMA
  • More GSM are still in use compared to CDMA-equipped devices
  • Has a firm hold on the market with numerous loyal users


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