GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) is a digital mobile telephony system that is widely used in Europe and other parts of the world. GSM uses a variation of time division multiple access (TDMA) and is the most widely used of the three digital wireless telephony technologies (TDMA, GSM, and CDMA). GSM digitizes and compresses data, then sends it down a channel with two other streams of user data, each in its own time slot. It operates at either the 900 MHz or 1800 MHz frequency band.
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Mobile services based on GSM technology were first launched in Finland in 1991. Today, more than 690 mobile networks provide GSM services across 213 countries and GSM represents 82.4% of all global mobile connections. According to GSM World, there are now more than 2 billion GSM mobile phone users worldwide. GSM World references China as "the largest single GSM market, with more than 370 million users, followed by Russia with 145 million, India with 83 million and the USA with 78 million users."
Since many GSM network operators have roaming agreements with foreign operators, users can often continue to use their mobile phones when they travel to other countries. SIM cards (Subscriber Identity Module) holding home network access configurations may be switched to those will metered local access, significantly reducing roaming costs while experiencing no reductions in service.
GSM, together with other technologies, is part of the evolution of wireless mobile telemmunications that includes High-Speed Circuit-Switched Data (HSCSD), General Packet Radio System (GPRS), Enhanced Data GSM Environment (EDGE), and Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service (UMTS).