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More on mobiles

There have been many queries on the competing technologies of GSM and CDMA. Read on to find out some answers...


CLARIFICATIONS ON a number of points about the competing technologies of GSM and CDMA have been sought. Clearly, this is a subject that affects many readers who are trying to make sense of the flood of announcements made by mobile service providers, both government and private. The following is a list of questions raised by readers and answers on the issues.

Why are CDMA phones used only for limited roaming? If CDMA is such a hot technology, why can it not provide global roaming?

Limiting CDMA phones in India to limited roaming within towns, using the Wireless in Local Loop technology (WiLL) is a purely administrative limitation and not a technology issue. The Indian Government wants to make best use of the available spectrum of frequencies so that it can reach the maximum number of citizens with telephone facilities.

Since Global Services Mobile (GSM) is the most widely used technology worldwide, it encouraged early mobile providers to use this system. It conceived WiLL as a janatha service for those who were happy with a local service.

Are the CDMA mobile handsets of Tata Indicom and Reliance Infocomm interchangeable?

All limited mobility providers whether Tata, Reliance or BSNL use the same CDMA technology and all such sets will be interchangeable. If you don t like the service from one provider, you can switch to another using the same handset. Since the world market for CDMA handsets is still rather small, these sets are a wee bit costlier, so agencies tend to absorb part of the cost or offer the handsets on an installment basis. Again, this is a temporary phenomenon. Five years from now, nobody knows which will be the dominant technology.

Why is CDMA technology preferred for multimedia applications?

CDMA phones currently use a wider band than what was allotted to GSM. Hence, applications which are bandwidth-hungry, like video or music can be more easily handled by CDMA. The current generation of GSM is called 2G. Faster versions like 2.5G or 3G (for 3rd generation) will overcome the bandwidth problems and offer multimedia capability as good as CDMA.

However, 3G requires the service providers to invest a lot more money and most people want mobile phones for making voice calls, nothing more.

So, 3G has been very slow in coming.

What about SMS? Do I need a GSM phone for text messaging?

Currently yes, because SMS was a proprietary tool created for GSM. But, the CDMA guys are not sitting around sucking their thumbs.

Messaging via CDMA is not a question of if but when.

A. VISHNU

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