Also see CDMA One, CDMA2000, and WCDMA. Compare time-division multiplex (TDM) and frequency-division multiplex (FDM).
CDMA (code-division multiple access) refers to any of several protocols used in so-called second-generation (2G) and third-generation (3G) wireless communications. As the term implies, CDMA is a form of multiplexing, which allows numerous signals to occupy a single transmission channel, optimizing the use of available bandwidth. The technology is used in ultra-high-frequency (UHF) cellular telephone systems in the 800-MHz and 1.9-GHz bands.
CDMA employs analog-to-digital conversion (ADC) in combination with spread spectrum technology. Audio input is first digitized into binary elements. The frequency of the transmitted signal is then made to vary according to a defined pattern (code), so it can be intercepted only by a receiver whose frequency response is programmed with the same code, so it follows exactly along with the transmitter frequency. There are trillions of possible frequency-sequencing codes; this enhances privacy and makes cloning difficult.
The CDMA channel is nominally 1.23 MHz wide. CDMA networks use a scheme called soft handoff, which minimizes signal breakup as a handset passes from one cell to another. The combination of digital and spread-spectrum modes supports several times as many signals per unit bandwidth as analog modes. CDMA is compatible with other cellular technologies; this allows for nationwide roaming.
The original CDMA standard, also known as CDMA One and still common in cellular telephones in the U.S., offers a transmission speed of only up to 14.4 Kbps in its single channel form and up to 115 Kbps in an eight-channel form. CDMA2000 and wideband CDMA deliver data many times faster.
TDMA (time division multiple access) is a technology used in digital cellular telephone communication that divides each cellular channel into three time slots in order to increase the amount of data that can be carried.
TDMA is used by Digital-American Mobile Phone Service (D-AMPS), Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), and Personal Digital Cellular (PDC). However, each of these systems implements TDMA in a somewhat different and incompatible way. An alternative multiplexing scheme to FDMA with TDMA is CDMA (code division multiple access), which takes the entire allocated frequency range for a given service and multiplexes information for all users across the spectrum range at the same time.
TDMA was first specified as a standard in EIA/TIA Interim Standard 54 (IS-54). IS-136, an evolved version of IS-54, is the United States standard for TDMA for both the cellular (850 MHz) and personal communications services (1.9 GHz) spectrums. TDMA is also used for Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT).
GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) is a digital mobile telephone 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 telephone 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.
GSM is the de facto wireless telephone standard in Europe. GSM has over 120 million users worldwide and is available in 120 countries, according to the GSM MoU Association. 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.
American Personal Communications (APC), a subsidiary of Sprint, is using GSM as the technology for a broadband personal communications service (PCS). The service will ultimately have more than 400 base stations for the palm-sized handsets that are being made by Ericsson, Motorola, and Nokia. The handsets include a phone, a text pager, and an answering machine.
GSM together with other technologies is part of an evolution of wireless mobile telecommunication that includes High-Speed Circuit-Switched Data (HCSD), General Packet Radio System (GPRS), Enhanced Data GSM Environment (EDGE), and Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service (UMTS).