The Definition Of GSM Cell Phones

What are GSM Cell Phones? To know the answer to that question, it is necessary to first understand what "GSM" means. The acronym really comes from the French groupe sp├ęcial mobile, typically translated into English as "global system for mobile communications" or "global system market." It is the most popular standard for cellular technology worldwide right now, which means that GSM cell phones are more numerous than other kinds, with an estimated eighty percent of the market, or around one and a half billion people, communicating through handsets operating on that protocol. Such popularity translates into increased end-user convenience, as a common standard allows for the kind of international roaming agreements between network carriers we have today.

GSM cell phones are considered to be second-generation mobiles because both signaling and speech channels are fully digital. Going all-digital also provides for better adoption of data applications. Using GSM technology also benefits consumers in other ways. For example, one may switch carriers and keep the same phone. GSM was also responsible for the rise of SMS or short message service functionality, better known today as text messaging or texting. Still another important feature of the standard was the implementation of a worldwide emergency telephone number, 112.

GSM technology is backward-compatible, so that cell phones using EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) data transmission speeds can still communicate seamlessly with those on the original version of the standard. Such user-friendly foresight is typical of European design sensibilities; indeed, GSM was originally developed for European telephony by the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations, or CEPT after its full name in French, in 1982. It wasn't until 1987, however, that a joint effort to develop a specifically cellular common protocol was agreed upon.

So far so good. But if it's all that good, why has competing standards developed - namely, CDMA? Well, to understand that, one has to first know something about CDMA - starting with what its name means. One of the most important things to remember is that CDMA does not operate using a SIM or smart card, in fact it uses the core of the phone itself and has a built in smart card which can identify the user. GSM phones can thus be unlocked for use around different countries but it is limited according to the service provider.

Short for Code Division Multiple Access, CDMA is a proprietary protocol created by the American company Qualcomm for North America and parts of Asia such as Japan. The important thing for consumers today to know is that both standards will suffice for the overwhelming vast majority of tasks for which an ordinary cell phone will likely be used. As with any rivalry, there are the die-hard fanatics who believe that their side is superior, but for the average user the hair-splitting technicalities involved are something of a moot point.

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