Cdma and Gsm

By: Ian Ball

A lot of confusion remains about the advantages & disadvantages of handsets enabled with CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and GSM (Global System for Mobile) technologies.

A CDMA handset operates on an in-built hardware, which means that when the customer abandons a particular service, which has been incorporated in the hardware, he would also have to surrender the handset to the service provider or abandon it. Or, if the hardware in the handset gets damaged, the customer will have no other option but to leave the handset and the connection itself. On the other hand, a GSM handset operates on a SIM card. Once a SIM card provided by a service provider, is inserted and activated, a GSM handset is ready for use. And as and when the customer feels, he is free to abandon the SIM card (read the service) and subscribe to another service. While service providers who use the SIM card technology, say CDMA is obsolete, those who use CDMA technology, say this technology is gaining popularity. "There are certain birth pangs for CDMA-supported service, like problems with licensing, network etc. As of now, our services are not as wide as we wish. But it is certainly picking up and more people are changing over from SIM card enabled services to CDMA-supported services. About 80% of the people converting to out services are those who had been using SIM card-enabled services," said an executive of TATA Indicom, while observing that CDMA technology enables the operators to provide better and cheaper services.

Almost all handset companies maintain a chain of service centres in all cities. If any damage occurs to the handset, customers can take their handsets to the authorised service centre and get the damaged part replaced without any hassle.
If the damage occurs during the warranty period, the customer is not charged for the labour involved. However, he will have to bear the cost of the component. If they handset has been picked up from the gray market, the customer may also have to shell out money for the labour. The cellular approach requires a large number of base stations in a city of any size. A typical large city can have hundreds of towers.

In Chennai, for example, `Hutch' cell-phone service provider has 201 towers at a distance of 750 metres from each other. Cells are normally thought of as hexagons on a big hexagonal grid. Because cell-phones and base stations use low-power transmitters, the same frequencies can be used in non-adjacent cells. Each cell has a base station that consists of a tower and a small building containing the radio equipment. Since so many people uses cell-phones now days, costs goes low per user.

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