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CDMA & GSM Cellular Technologies

By Robyn |

Q&A on CDMA & GSM Cellular Technologies

Q: What are GSM & CDMA and how are they different?

A: Both GSM and CDMA are global standards for cellular communication and represent the two major radio systems used in cellular technology. The main difference between GSM (Global System for Mobile) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technology is the way data is converted into radio waves and how the frequency bands are divided, as well as their global reach and coverage. Both accomplish the same goal: cellular communication for cell phones and other devices that use wireless technology.

Q: Which is better?

A: Both networks have different advantages, depending on geographic location and who your carrier is. When it comes down to it, the quality of the network is more important than the subscribed technology.  Factors such as area coverage, customer service, data transfer speed etc. are a better determinate of what technology/carrier is the best fit.

GSM is the dominant technology in most of the world, but CDMA happens to be a major source in the US market specifically. Carriers such as Verizon and Sprint use the CDMA technology and AT & T and T-Mobile use the GSM standard.  Each carrier offers a variety of data transmission speeds on each network, known as 2G, 3G, or 4G.

Q: What does this mean for Lat-Lon customers?

A:  Previously, Lat-Lon products used GSM 2G, or Second Generation Wireless, networks.  AT&T announced that it will be shutting down 2G networks by 2017 and filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to shut down these networks as it continues to upgrade its systems to faster technology and better use its limited airwaves.

Q: What will happen in 2017?  

A: The deadline may possibly be extended, but when the 2G network is shutdown, any unit still transmitting in 2G will no longer be able to communicate. For more information on the shutdown, check out our blog. If you are wondering if your Lat-Lon unit has been affected, please refer to your data invoice or contact Amy Boehm at aboehm@lat-lon.com