back to article GSM connectivity now enjoyed by 4 billion

GSM is well on the way to global domination, with one-time rival CDMA serving a mere 423 million compared to the four billion who'll soon be able to make a GSM call. The news comes from industry advocate group 3G Americas, who reckon that by the end of September phones compliant with the GSM family of standards will be in the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why three networks?

    Could someone please explain, to a bear of very little brain, why the Chinese government is mandating three different 3G networks?

  2. Tam Lin

    Clarification, please

    Are you claiming that Chinese regulators are less corrupt than their American and Korean counterparts? Or slightly more so? I guess we'll know soon enough.

  3. Pirate Dave

    4 Billion?

    I'm guessing that's American billions, not official El Reg billions.

    But still, there are 4 BILLION cellphones in current use? Wow, a lot of folks sure do like to chit-chat...

  4. Anonymous Coward

    TD-SCDMA is an official GSM (3GPP) standard

    3GPP is the name of the organization that now looks after the GSM standard.

    The 2G GSM variant you refer to is 3GPP Release 98.

    The first 3G WCDMA standard is Release 99.

    HSDPA is Release 5

    HSUPA is Release 6

    HSPA+ is Release 7

    LTE is Release 8

    China's TD-SCDMA is part of the 3GPP standard Releases 4 and later.

  5. Mage Silver badge

    Or Why?

    the brain dead W-CDMA was 3G successor to 2G GSM. Politics?

    W-CDMA is only "faster" as because it uses 5MHz rather than 0.2MHz channels of GSM's FDMA/TDMA.

    Otherwise it's pretty rubbish compared with what other possible technologies existed then.

    LTE is OFDM on the downstream.

  6. Andus McCoatover

    GSM is dead...

    Or, so was the Mantra in '05. We at Nokia Networks were told it wouldn't live beyond 2008 - 2009 - 2010 - 2011....

    Surely, same argument about the Infernal Combustion Engine in, oh, 1950's?

    But, in 1997, I was having a discussion with a Senior Nokia Engineer (PhD level) who told me, in all confidence, that W-CDMA will never solve the "near-far problem*", and will never be commercially viable. Goes to show how useful these scholarly types are. Should stick to cunting a punt on the 'Cam.

    * Google. Can't be arsed to go into detail on this sticky pub's keyboard. Ok, this'll do.

    Scroll down a bit.

  7. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    China's go it alone

    @AC: One reason why China is developing its own standards is to avoid the licence payments for the other technologies. Seeing as now most phones and an increasing amount of the the rest of the network components are more or less entirely made in China that might give Chinese manufacturers the clout they need in future discussions - get the other technology for free or use their own and threaten to export it. I think there is something similar with high definitiion video.

    Consumers don't care about the technology, they just want stuff to work - ie. there phone to be usable wherever they are. GSM allowed component manufacturerers (Qualcomm, TI, Infineon, et al.) to guarantee that roaming would work pretty much around the world. The success of mandated GSM technology in Europe guaranteed economies of scale for the network manufacturers which gave them advantages in new markets and even allowed them to challenge in America's fragmented market - which had survived because it was recognised that people don't roam half as much as adverts would suggest and providing good *mobile* coverage in subscribers' key locations - home, way to work, airports was sufficient until the success of mobile phones turned a luxury into a commodity which (suddenly) has to work everywhere and all the time.

  8. Andrew Martin 1

    4 billion what?

    Is that 4bn devices (SIMs) or 4bn people?

    It's well known that in the west, market penetration is running around 150% or more, in many countries. And in the developing world, it's common for many people share a single phone (with all kinds of smarts around separate address books and separate phone numbers).

  9. _wtf_

    Why Three?

    Probably the idea is to maintain manufacturing expertise in a range of technologies rather than being limited to one. There is no advantage in this for the customers, who do better if the competing networks all use the same phone, so that you can swap easily from one to another. This is one reason why mobile technology is more advanced in Europe than in the US the competing networks use different technology, making it hard to swap. In Europe swapping is usually as easy as buying a new SIM for another network. So there is a limit to how bad the service can get, eg no worse than the competitor.

  10. John Doe 1

    Ah, yes... I can see it now...

    Peasant working in a rice paddy under a harsh and most unyielding hot sun whips out his iPhone 3GS and places a GSM call to his spouse, saying: "Honey, I'm sorry, but I'll be home late tonight."

    That, to me, epitomises what ' enjoyed by 4 billion' means.

    (For some value of 'enjoy', mind you.)

    Dodgy numbers that reminds me too much of how the U.S. media likes to hype up the American football Super Bowl TV viewership by bandying around outrageous figures such as over one billion people worldwide watched at least a portion of the game.

  11. Herby Silver badge


    CDMA is probably a better technology. In addition, CDMA phones don't make funny sounds in AM radios when they broadcast system inquiries. Of course here in silicon valley, the CDMA coverage is a bit better. One of these days AT&T will get a few more towers planted (over peoples objections, ill founded as they are).

    As the commercial here says "Its the network!" (then adds "Can you hear me now!").

    What really needs to be done is to have the cell phone providers actually publish their DETAILED coverage maps so we could decide better. None of this map with various sized of red dots.

  12. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    Even easier

    > In Europe swapping is usually as easy as buying a new SIM for another network. So there is a limit

    > to how bad the service can get, eg no worse than the competitor.

    Infact not even that... Just transfer your number to the new network keep the old sim old phone etc...

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Put the quoted numbers in context

    Since that 400+M is largely based in the US it represents 25% of the worlds economy. When it comes to a political sway 1 Silicon Valley exec != 1 rice patty farmer. CDMA still wins. I bet if you looked at net data transferred that would tell the story.

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