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Why is GSM "better" than CDMA?

Discussion in 'GENERAL Wireless Discussion' started by R32VW, Mar 27, 2004.

  1. R32VW

    R32VW Senior Member
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    From the UMTS Forum Glossary, a description of CDMA2000 -

    "Third generation technology providing a migratory path to 3G services for operators who have deployed second generation (cdmaOne) systems. CDMA is an ITU-approved, IMT-2000 (3G) standard, divided into two phases: 1X introduces packet data with theoretical speeds up to 144 kbps. 3X supports circuit and packet data and advanced service capabilities up to a theoretical 2 Mbps."

    Uh, okay, right - - what they said! [​IMG]
     
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  2. agentHibby

    agentHibby Iowa Cellular Guru
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    Ok time for my thoughts finally

    1st what I think is that CDMA has better quality of sound when their is not many people on the equivlaent analog voice channel.
    When their is many people on the channel is when GSM will sound better. When first got a CDMA phone and my v120 calls were crystal clear. By fall just before I got my Timeport in 2002 sound qualtiy started to fall in Logan, UT. It still is good, but not like it was.

    I know in Japan there is CDMA. I thought their was no GSM in Japan, I thought they used J phones or are they the same??
     
  3. R32VW

    R32VW Senior Member
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    I believe Japan uses WCDMA (3rd gen., right?) while the U.S. uses CDMA2000 (gen. "2.5").
     
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  4. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    This is just another of the many discussions of GSM vs. CDMA that have taken place here. After each discussion, both CDMA and GSM have continued to be the same. Some people seem to think that by defending one over the other they can change the world and make it better. Well, I have news for you: Nothing has changed. Both CDMA and GSM continue to offer the same share of advantages and disadvantages they offered years ago. Whether coverage has changed in your area or not, is irrelevant because it doesn't make one technology better or worse than the other. Coverage improvements only make your user experience better, but it doesn't make the technology better.

    Whatever your technology of preference is, I believe it is determined mostly by your user experience. Both the phone you use and network coverage quality pretty much determine how your user experience is. However, your phone has A LOT to do with your user experience even if the network is in optimal or bad shape. If you use a bad phone on a good network or viceversa, your user experience is not going to be pleasant.

    For those who want to know the phone with best noise cancellation on GSM, well, as a general rule, flip phones work better at cancelling noise. But I would not call that noise cancellation. I would say that is only a properly adjusted microphone with proper sound processing/equalization. Flip phones use directional mics and place them closer to the mouth so their sensitivity is lowered. Lower sensitivity allows the network to discriminate better between your voice and background noise. Granted, CDMA wins here because its codec has built-in noise cancellation. But the point is the phone has a tremendous influence in sound quality. However, CDMA's built-in noise cancellation has drawbacks. It is generally accepted that GSM keeps a more pure voice quality across the network (if you don't agree, get a better phone [​IMG]). So there's always a tradeoff. CDMA cancels background noise, GSM maintains crisper sounding voice. Whether you think one feature is better than the other is just a personal choice sometimes related to what kind of environment you and the people you talk to use the phones.

    About the soft vs. hard handoffs and sound breakups, we all know GSM hard handoff technique can cause quick breakups in sound. However, this depends MOSTLY on the phone. Some GSM/TDMA phones perform really messy handoffs depending on how well their software handles error correction. However, this doesn't mean that CDMA phones are breakup-free. It is entirely possible to get sound breakups on CDMA that are not related to handoffs, such as momentarily bad or flaky reception or excessive transmission bit errors the codec could not handle. This can happen in ANY digital network regardless of what transmission method it uses. Now, there are some GSM phones out there that you cannot notice handoffs at all even if you are looking to hear them. So the benefit of soft handoff vs. hard handoff is virtually non-existent when you use a good GSM phone.

    As far as sound quality, your perception of good or bad sound has to do with both the network and the phone. However, it has mostly to do with the phone you use. For instance, when using most Siemens or Nokia phones on GSM networks, people will complain about background noise. However, when using some Samsung and Motorola GSM phones, they will complain about muffled sound. On CDMA, many Motorola phones will make people sound like they are talking from inside a box and nearly unintelligible depending on how they hold the phone. Now, I bet if you use a CDMA phone on Sprint, you will sound much better than if you use the same phone on Verizon. Bottomline, get the phone that works best for your network.
     
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  5. NYCDru

    NYCDru Sprint Newbie
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    Kudos Bobolito for killing at least half the furutre arguments in this arena.

    This begs a few questions however.

    What are the best GSM phones for:

    Reception?
    Sound Quality?
    Noise Cancelation?
    Handoffs?


    Also, the same questions for CDMA phones.
     
  6. larry

    larry Sprint loyalist and former mod
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    I'll admit one thing I don't like about CDMA is the signal pollution and handoff problems that sometimes occur. For example if Sprint puts up a new tower in one area and doesn't fine tune it properly to handoff to the other towers that are supposed to be in it's neighbor list (and vice versa) you can actually drop more calls and have more problems than even before the new tower went up. I have seen several examples of this here in Orange County and had to inform Sprint of the problems. If the signal from too many different towers are hitting one area it could also cause trouble. This is called signal pollution. I don't know if other technologies besides CDMA are affected by this or if it's just a CDMA thing.
     
  7. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    Any technology can be affected by signal pollution. If towers are not fine tuned correctly, excessive overlaps can make your calls drop. This normally happens in high altitudes where the mobile phone picks up too many towers. Go to any NYC bridge and you are likely to find problems even if your phone shows full signal. No technology is inmune to this problem.

    NYCDru, to answer your question, I would say if any phone doesn't have about as good RF reception as another, then there's something wrong with it. All phones have about the same RF. The difference that people see most of the times is in the phone's error correction abilities. This is what allows the phone to deliver clear audio in a wider variety of scenarios and with weaker signals. A phone with bad error correction will cut out audio and deliver garbled sound before others under the same conditions even though they are both reading the same RF dBm level. The late version of the Moto T720 made a remarkable improvement in error correction.

    Sound Quality? I am assuming you are talking about the earpiece. Nokias are notorious for their great earpieces. Samsungs are good as well.

    Noise Cancelation? Don't even think about Nokia here. They like to pick up every noise around you. Flip phones do a better job here. Motorola's are good in this area. However, some models like the Startac and the T720 take it too far and make your voice muffled. The new Samsungs are not very good either. People using Samsung GSM phones sound like they are inside a box.

    Handoffs? This may vary between software revisions. The first revision of the Sony Ericsson T616 was having problems with handoffs. With the new version, however, handoffs are not even noticed. With the Motorola V400, handoffs are rarely noticed. However, use an LG4050 and you will hear the most insignificant glitch in reception, not to mention its messy handoffs.

    Maybe someone with more experience with CDMA phones can answer the second part of your question.
     
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  8. larry

    larry Sprint loyalist and former mod
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    Yep I have especially noticed it when I'm in the hills.
     
  9. Airb330

    Airb330 Silver Senior Member
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    My siemens picks up EVERY sound around me. Quite annoying. I understand in a crowd though, and I must say CDMA sounds better in that environment. 3589i Verizon vs. C56 ATT at Reagan Nat'l baggage claim, Verizon wins hands down, even with WAY lower signal. On a windy day, which is like everyday now, the C56 picks up the wind so much. I can hear it through the earpeice, and it really annoys me. It has to be a hurricane to pick up wind on my CDMA nokia. CDMA does seem to win in most situations, but I enjoy GSM sound quality more since Verizon garbles so much at college.
     
  10. larry

    larry Sprint loyalist and former mod
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    So I guess if you attend noisy sporting events fairly often it's better to go with CDMA.
     
  11. Matt

    Matt Twin girls!
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    Anyone know if the implementation of the AMR codec will improve the GSM side? I know TM is moving to this in 04; I don't know about the other carriers.....
     
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  12. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    AirB330, just remember you were using a Siemens which are notorious for their hypersensitive microphones. Try a good GSM phone and you will see the difference. [​IMG]

    Matt, AMR sounds just about the same as EFR. Some claim it quiets down background noise a bit, but the difference I saw is very insignificant. It doesn't have noise reduction like CDMA. Just remember that the only reason CDMA has noise reduction is because it saves tons of spectrum for CDMA networks. However, for GSM networks noise reduction has little benefit so it is not a priority to implement it on GSM. The advantage to AMR is that it allows two people to share the same time slot, so in a perfect world, you can double capacity. However, there are other factors that prevent it from effectively doubling capacity.
     
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  13. MrFlashport

    MrFlashport Junior Member
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    Larry,

    simulcasting on any single radio channel (as is the case with CDMA networks) is an art. This is why it usually takes several months to "fine tune" a site to it's neighboor pilots so your phone can seemlessly "move" from site to site without dropping a call. (those RAKE equalizers really are amazing) CDMA is by no means prefected, and after having a 3 hour conversation with a Sprint Spectrum RF tech I met at the show last week, Sprint in particular REALLY DOES look at CDR's when a new site comes online and he gets called back out to go make adjustments. He says it takes an average of 6 to 8 months to "tweak" a single Sprint site for optimum performance but they do it every day.

    As Bobolito pointed out, a poor performing subscriber unit can translate to what seems to be a poor performing network. Compare the CDR's for Sanyo phones versus Motorola, well, you get the idea. Many folks who bash Sprint have phones that are crapola (like, and it breaks my heart to say it, are Motorolas) and thus, they think it is a network issue.
    (I have a Sanyo and have dropped only ONE call in over a month out of now 6K plus mins of use)


    A note to those above who have issues when they use phones at high site locations (such as on top of moutains or in planes, etc)...your poor service is more due to the fact that because of your height above the average terrain, your phone can "hear" many many sites on the same radio channel (in the analog mode, it is known as a heterodyne effect where multiple signals on the same frequency arrive at a reciever) and because they are of relatively equal stregnth, your phone cannot "zero in" on a single one. You can try collapsing your antenna (if your phone has one) which will attenuate the weaker signals so your phone may only hear the strong ones. But it doesn't always work in every situation.
     
  14. larry

    larry Sprint loyalist and former mod
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    Thanks for the info. I know of a few spots that still haven't been optimized as good as they should be even though those sites have been on the air for almost two years.
     
  15. NYCDru

    NYCDru Sprint Newbie
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    Hmm...Larry...Matt?
     
  16. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    Some phones vary their RF sensitivity depending on how strong the signal is. If the signal is too strong, they may lower sensitivity. Most phones don't do this, however. Also, some phones are more efficient at decoding weak signals. This accounts for the differences you see.
     
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  17. NYCDru

    NYCDru Sprint Newbie
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    You can however see why an enduser such as myself would call that reception now can't you?

    By the way, v600? Play with it yet? any thoughts?
     
  18. windsor607

    windsor607 New Member

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    just read the rest of the thread.....previous questions answered
     
  19. Bugwart

    Bugwart Bronze Senior Member
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    Your question is very wide open.

    Better questions might be which has "better coverage", "better plans", "better roaming", "better signal strength", etc.

    (BTW, there is no GSM in Japan, nor will their ever be GSM there. Japan uses its own version of TDMA on the 800 MHz band. It is called PDC.)

    Maturity of either system is irrelavant in determining which is better for you.

    Call quality depends on the system installation and maintenance as well as the phone manufacturer and model.
     
  20. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    Frankly, the only advantage that I see in CDMA is more spectrum efficiency. But there are other things that CDMA can't do, such as receiving incoming calls while downloading data on 1X, or receiving and sending SMS while on a phone call at the same time.
     
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  21. AnthroMatt

    AnthroMatt Big Meanie
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    I can receive SMS on Sprint while in a phone call. Have not tried to send one though.
     
  22. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    Then it might be the Sanyo 5300 limitation because every time I send SMS to my friend on Sprint, he never receives the SMS until he hangs up. If he's not on the phone, the SMS gets delivered immediately. I've tried it several times on different times of the day and night to make sure it is not coincidence or network congestion and the same thing happens.

    Also, everytime he's browsing the Internet, I call him and calls go directly to voicemail. When he stops using the internet, calls ring just fine. This is with full signal at various times during the day or night.
     
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  23. larry

    larry Sprint loyalist and former mod
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    When data is transferring (internet arrows are moving) it's not possible to receive calls with Sprint. Isn't that the same with any carrier? I don't see why that would be a Sprint only thing.
     
  24. larry

    larry Sprint loyalist and former mod
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    I don't think the Sanyo 5300 is even capable of the new SMS. Doesn't that have the old web based SMS?
     
  25. AnthroMatt

    AnthroMatt Big Meanie
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    Right, the 5300 uses the old web-based messaging system, so those message will not go through since they use the voice/data channel. SMS uses something different though. All the newest Sprint phones feature "real" MO-SMS and can receive (and send I would presume, though that may be a limitation of the phone itself) during a call. I think the limitation you refer to bobolito is a pre-SMS Sprint limitation, and not one of CDMA.
     
  26. AnthroMatt

    AnthroMatt Big Meanie
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    This may or may not be a CDMA thing. The same happens on Verizon. I was never sure if the web browsing on CDMA prevented incoming calls or if it is the CDMA carriers that have decided not to interrupt a data session with a voice call.
     
  27. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    It is not the same with GSM carriers. I can receive incoming calls and SMS while a data download is in progress either on CSD or GPRS.

    By the way, I've noticed that the SMS on the 5300 is the old style web based.
     
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  28. larry

    larry Sprint loyalist and former mod
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    Interesting. I can receive calls while browsing as long as the page has loaded. But if the data is in the process of transferring, calls will not come in. I'm guessing it is either a CDMA thing or Sprint has developed it to be that way for a reason. It's not really that big of deal to me though.
     
  29. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    Actually, I think it's the phone. It is not the network or the carrier. In other words, the phone may be too busy handling a download at that moment to take a call and it ignores the network request when a call comes in.
     
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  30. larry

    larry Sprint loyalist and former mod
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    Hey Bobolito, tonight I was at LAX and was on a call and received a text message notification while talking. So SMS does work on Sprint (at least sometimes) while a call is in progress.

    By the way this was first time in a while that I had to try 3 times to get on the web (network busy). Must have been the heavy airport traffic and time (8:00 PM).
     

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