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CDMA vs GSM Debate by Development group

Discussion in 'GENERAL Wireless Discussion' started by Fire14, Nov 20, 2006.

  1. Telekom

    Telekom Bronze Senior Member
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    Well, do ya think that's maybe because GSM is the only technology used for mobile communication in most of the world? :)
     
  2. Telekom

    Telekom Bronze Senior Member
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    Scottsboy, it's only in mobile forums that you have this debate. No where else. As you say it's more than likely that someone won't have clue number one which technology their mobile uses and all they care about is that when they punch in numbers and hit the talk key that the call goes through and they can talk without any problem with the party that they are calling.
     
  3. Telekom

    Telekom Bronze Senior Member
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    I take exception to the "where would they be" argument. That same argument was used with the Bell System before it was broken up in 1984. Some people said that without the competition that other long distance companies such as MCI and Sprint brought that we'd still be using rotary dial phones or something. Innovation would have happened regardless. Competition encourages innovation, but innovation will happen regardless just at a slower pace. If the GSM standard wasn't so successful there wouldn't be over 2 billion subscribers.
     
  4. eagle63

    eagle63 Junior Member
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    "Where would they be" probably wasn't the best choice of words. GSM would still be dominant, of course, and no doubt they would innovate but I think it would be at a much slower pace. From purely an engineering/technological standpoint, CDMA was a pretty incredible breakthrough in the wireless world. Getting it to actually work well was an even bigger accomplishment. The GSM companies spent the next decade trying to get it to work themselves (slowed somewhat by lawsuits with Qualcomm) and they eventually did, and thus we have UMTS.

    Might they have arrived at UMTS on their own? Maybe. There really isn't a debate over which is better anymore. CDMA is clearly the better technology and has won - the question now is who's implementation do you like better? CDMA2K's, or the GSM consortium? (UMTS) To the end user it really shouldn't matter, unless you're a geek like us. :)

    I just think having 2 competing technologies in the space is ultimately a good thing, even if it caused some initial growing pains.
     
  5. Telekom

    Telekom Bronze Senior Member
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    What I want to know is if CDMA is such a superior technology why did GSM innovate with such things as SIMs and SMS since these things were just an afterthought on 2G CDMA. You are aware that SMS (with that name) was originated in GSM?

    As said earlier and often the debate about which is superior is a fruitless argument.
     
  6. eagle63

    eagle63 Junior Member
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    There actually is a SIM card in the CDMA spec, but it's optional and none of the US carriers implemented it. (which is a shame because it's really one of the biggest selling points for GSM in my opinion) SMS is great, although it's nothing that's specific to GSM technology. Any voice carrier can choose to implement it. The CDMA carriers took forever (especially Sprint) to roll it out. Why? I don't know.
     
  7. Telekom

    Telekom Bronze Senior Member
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    Actually, if you investigate SMS (as opposed to 'text messages') is indeed a GSM spec.

    "SMS was originally designed as part of GSM, but is now available on a wide range of networks, including 3G networks."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_message_service

    And as for R-UIM (which is what you refer to) I'd like to know what the good reason is why it was never adopted by CDMA operators in North America. The only thing I can figure is that the CDMA operators would rather be "control freaks" and not allow their customer base to use whatever they want to use or at least make it more difficult to change phones/devices.
     
  8. Jay2TheRescue

    Jay2TheRescue Resident Spamslayer
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    Come on, We're talking about Verizon here. They're not control freaks. They just want to cripple their high-end phones to force you to buy more content from them, and well not activating any phone that isn't in their database - they just want to make sure they are the ones selling you phones. Its not control, its purely economic;).

    -Jay
     
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  9. scotsboyuk

    scotsboyuk Senior Member
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    Yes of course, but it is the intensity of the debate that is the most fascinating aspect. :p
     
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  10. eagle63

    eagle63 Junior Member
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    Probably true, plus I'm sure it was cheaper to leave it out. I've got a killer plan with Sprint (SERO), if I could get cheap data rates on either T-Mobile or Cingular I'd probably switch (once UMTS matures a bit) if for no other reason than the SIM card.
     
  11. Jay2TheRescue

    Jay2TheRescue Resident Spamslayer
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    Personally I think my $19.99 unlimited data with Cingular is pretty cheap, especially when you consider I usually use between 150 and 250 megs of data each month.

    -Jay
     
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  12. scotsboyuk

    scotsboyuk Senior Member
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    If you look at the rationale for UMTS though, it wasn't necessarily because there was a rival standard encroaching upon th GSM networks' terrain. In Europe there was no great 'battle' between standards, and as far as I can see the rationale for UMTS was purely one of increasing profits through new revenue streams, and increasing capacity.

    I'm not sure that speaking of standards having 'won' is really very helpful because I think it ultimately doesn't mean much. For anything to have 'won' there would have to have been an acknowledged conflict, and for large numbers of people there simply wasn't one. Rather there has been a progression from one technology to another.

    As I said before, competing technologies don't appear to be doing much to advance the American mobile market.
     
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  13. eagle63

    eagle63 Junior Member
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    I'm a PDAPhone user and every time I've inquired to a Cingular rep about unlimited data plans they've always told me I need the $40/month plan. Apparently the $20/month plan (MediaNet?) is only for non-pda/smart phones.

    Right now I'm paying $30/month for 500 minutes, free NW, and unlimited EVDO data. Even without this killer plan, regular unlimited EVDO is only $15/month.
     
  14. eagle63

    eagle63 Junior Member
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    So you don't think that Ericsson, Nokia, et. al, had the slightest concern that there was this "new-fangled" technology in the states that was growing by leaps and bounds and was taking away market share from them? Of course I'm speculating, but I have a feeling they gave it more than passing glance, especially since they ended up adopting it...

    Define "advancing."
    I would consider CDMA to be quite an advancement over GSM. (I'm talking about the technology, mind you - not the carriers or the politics) In ten years the US has gone from being probably the least advanced civilized country for wireless phones to one of the most advanced. How many other western countries have the level of 3G coverage that we currently do?
     
  15. Jay2TheRescue

    Jay2TheRescue Resident Spamslayer
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    Well, one of the phones I use on the plan is an HP iPAQ 6515, which is an awesome PDA phone.

    -Jay
     
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  16. scotsboyuk

    scotsboyuk Senior Member
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    In terms of 2/2.5G technologies I don't think the GSM players would have been worrying about CDMA because, to be frank, GSM got to a position of simply being the de facto global standard. In terms of 2/2.5G technology I believe CDMA has actually been losing global market share to GSM.

    In terms of 3G standards I think it is arguably slightly disingeneous to state that CDMA was adopted by primarily GSM manufacturers and networks. The reason I say this is because WCDMA is not the same as the CDMA2000 upgrade path that some 2G CDMA networks have chosen.

    There is also the point to be made that there were no competing standards in Europe, nor are thre now, and an upgrade path was not only chosen, but implemented before many networks in the U.S., which does have competing standards. The networks here had essentially taken GSM as far as it could go, and signed up most of the population. There was basically nowhere else for them to go in terms of expansion, hence 3G. It is also one of the reasons that 3G hasn't taken off quite as much as some people predicted; the customers weren't necessarily asking for 3G, rather it was the networks who wanted to use it to open up new revenue streams.

    What I mean by advancing is making the U.S. mobile market stronger, more advanced in terms of servces and hardware deployed, and increasing the influence of U.S. mobile companies. I don't really see that competing standards are doing any of those things.

    I think it is stretching things somewhat to say that the U.S. market is '... one of the most advanced." You only have to look at handsets, for example, to see that the U.S. lags behind other areas of the world in terms of handset features, variety, and release dates. One could also look to network services to see a disparity between the U.S. and other markets. When were mobile television broadcasts introduced? Satellite television broadcasts? Video calling? Mobile wallets?

    To be frank, in comparison to some other First World countries, the U.S. mobile market really isn't all that advanced at all, and as I said, I don't see competing standards doing much to improve that situation.

    In term sof 3G coverage, the U.S. probably has a larger geographic area covered than many other Western nations, but then it is a huge country so that is to be expected. However, in practical terms, other Western nations had 3G coverage before the U.S., and have expanded it to cover a greater percentage of their populations.
     
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  17. eagle63

    eagle63 Junior Member
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    Yes, CDMA is a different upgrade path than what GSM has chosen. My point was that WCDMA/UMTS uses a CDMA air interface. Without the advancements made in the US thanks to a competitive wireless landscape (rather than a government forced standard in Europe) they were able to make this a reality far sooner than would have otherwise been possible.

    While I don't know the exact timing, I believe EVDO was launched at about the same time than UMTS. I think Verizon had EVDO live in late 2003 or early 2004 and the first UMTS deployments were about that same timeframe. (Not in the US though)

    I won't argue at all that you have a bigger selection of handsets than we do. However, it's a lot better than it used to be here - even as little as 3 years ago. Plus, now that the US GSM carriers *appear* to be loosening their rules on unlocking handsets, it may hopefully open the market up even more.

    I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree. I see competition in the technologies as a good thing (bumpy at first, but good overall) and you don't. I don't believe we're going to convince each other otherwise.
     
  18. scotsboyuk

    scotsboyuk Senior Member
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    I think the crux of your argument rests upon the premise that without competitive standards in the U..S there would have been a delay in the GSM upgrade path. I don't agree with this for one main reason; you are essentially presenting speculation and assumption as fact.

    The speculative part of your argument is in theorising what might have happened. The simple fact of the matter is that neither your nor I know for certain what would have happened had there been no CDMA.

    The assumption you make is in suggesting that competitive standards catalyse advances in wireless technology more than other market forces do. As I mentioned before, the European networks essentially introduced 3G because they had nowhere else to go with 2.5/2.75G in terms of growing their business. I think it is reasonable to suggest that if that impetus can prompt the introduction of a technology, it could also conceivably prompt the development of a technology.

    That may be true, but look at how long it has taken for all four of the major U.S. networks to implement 3G. Cingular has only recently begun a serious programme of implementing 3G, and I don't think T-Mobile has even begun yet. If competing standards really did increase competition, and promote the advancement of the market then I think we should have seen fairly rapid adoption and implementation of 3G by all the major networks in an effort to keep up with their competitors.

    To be fair there are other factors, which may arguably be doing more to impede 3G implementation than any prompting that might be coming from competition between standards.

    It may be getting better, but I still think it is shocking that one of the single largest First World markets doesn't have access to as varied a range of handsets as some developing countries do. It's not just bad for U.S. consumers, it is also bad for cinsumers elsewhere in the world because it means that manufacturers are not competing as fiercely as they could be in a certain market, which should ultimately result in a better deal for consumers, both locally in the U.S., and worldwide in terms of new designs, etc.

    It is in regards to handsets that I am probably most critical of competing standards. I think competition between standards has done the U.S. (and North American consumer in general) a great disservice when it comes to handsets. It's not as if neither CDMA or GSM lacks good handsets, but unfortunately it is the case that the American consumer tends to lack both good CDMA and GSM handsets, or at best receive them late.

    I think competition is a great thing when it advances the market, and benefits consumers. However, I simply don't see that as being the case in terms of competing standards in the U.S. I don't see what their alleged benefit is doing to advance the American mobile market, in so many areas the U.S. lags behind other areas of the world.
     
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  19. eagle63

    eagle63 Junior Member
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    I'm quite certain I haven't presented anything as fact, and if you take a peek at some of my earlier posts you'll notice that I actually conceded that UMTS may have been developed without any competition. Your belief that a lack of competition would not have delayed the GSM upgrade path is also speculation.

    Of course I'm theorizing. I have no idea what would or wouldn't have happened if history were to be re-written. We're both presenting arguments based partially on assumptions.

    I do think you're trivializing CDMA a bit. It sounds as if you're saying: "Competition wouldn't have mattered because once a need for faster data speeds and more effecient networks arose, the GSM companies would have just "invented" UMTS." (or some other technology that could meet the needs of 3G) As if it were as simple as throwing a new coat of paint on a house. As I said before, it's possible they may have, but I doubt it. I'm no network engineer, but from everything I've read CDMA was a pretty significant engineering feat that took years of research to perfect and deploy. QCOM's own involvement in UTMS/HSDPA (either direct or indirect) is pretty substantial.

    And the whole reason CDMA was invented was because the FCC allowed an open competition among anyone who wanted to develop a better technology than GSM. The premise for my argument is that had the FCC forced a particular standard like Europe did, then I don't believe CDMA would have ever been born. And if CDMA was never born, then I don't think UMTS would exist. (or at the very least, it would have taken considerably longer than it did) Either way, I believe this would have changed the GSM upgrade path considerably.

    Ultimately, I don't really care much about CDMA vs GSM. For me, it's more about the intrigue of the technology itself. Were it not for the great deal I currently have with Sprint, I'd probably be with TMobile so I could take advantage of switching sim's between multiple phones.

    With the amount of market share GSM has (and is gaining), we might well end up with 1 technology standard before too long anyway. That's fine with me, as long as there always exists the opportunity for someone to develop something better.
     
  20. pipmaster1971

    pipmaster1971 New Member

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    Looks like I missed a good debate :( Been spending too much time on HoFo apparently (am I allowed to mention that site here?). I agree with a lot of what you've been saying, I also agree that the competition between standards (CDMA/IS-95/1xRTT and GSM) has also allowed for greater inovation on the GSM side.

    I do however take point with your quote above. The whole "government mandated" thing I hear a lot, and I always like to mention. It is in fact a half-truth often spouted by CDG and Qualcomm, and doesn't match up to reality. A COMMON STANDARD is the requirement that Europe wanted, and then only on the 900MHz frequency. Of course, 1800MHz operators also chose it since at the time GSM was the only standard ready to go. GSM was not pushed by any governmental organization in any way.
     
  21. scotsboyuk

    scotsboyuk Senior Member
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    I'm not trying to argue to the contrary, rather I am pointing out that your suggestion that "Without the advancements made in the US thanks to a competitive wireless landscape (rather than a government forced standard in Europe) they were able to make this a reality far sooner than would have otherwise been possible." is based upon speculation because neither of us know that for certain.

    I don't believe that a lack of competition would have necessarily entailed the same rate of advancement, or even a faster rate, as I said neither of us can say for sure. What I am saying is that one should be careful in placing too much importance on the role of competitive standards at the expense of other influencing factors.

    The logic behind saying competitive standards increase the rate of advancement is certainly persuasive on the face of it, and I agree with it to a certain extent. However, I think it is important to be mindful that there are other factors involved, which may, in some cases me equally, or more, important than the role of competitive standards.

    Indeed we are.

    I'm not attempting to trivialise CDMA, but I am essentially saying that a GSM upgrade path would have been developed without it. I am not suggesting that it would be easy to develop such a standard, but if the market was pushing the networks towards it then I think they would have had their hand forced.

    If you are operating in a maket that has essentially become saturated to the point where there are no new customers, and where the existing technology is basically at its limits in terms of creating new revenue streams, then there really is only one way forward in terms of expansion and growth.

    I think we can both agree that the absence of CDMA probably would have altered the GSM upgrade path to some extent. However, as I said above, I don't necessarily think that the absence of CDMA would have slowed down the rate of progress if there were other factors pushing for development.

    I don't think most people really care about the technical side of things, they just want something that works. The standard itself isn't terribly important to me, I'd be quite happy using GSM, CDMA, UMTS or two cans and a piece of string as long as they allowed me to do the things I wanted. :p

    I think there has to be that opportunity, having a single standard is all very well and fine, but I agree with you in saying that there has to be the potential for developing better technologies. Stagnation wouldn't be good for anyone.
     
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  22. scotsboyuk

    scotsboyuk Senior Member
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    So we meet again ... the circle is now complete. :p

    It's one of the down sides to having a common standard that if something better comes along, which isn't compatible with the existing standard, that it is difficult and costly to change to the better technology. Having said that, I think we really need a common standard here, it would likely be chaotic without one.

    I rather wonder whether this hasn't got something to do with an aversion to government regulation in America. The U.S. seems to be somewhat less inclined to consider government intervention and regulation than European nations. Perhaps there is an element of cultural difference in the issue too?
     
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