Which came first, GSM or CDMA?

Since it seems that most people believe that Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) is the original cellular technology, having been introduced in the 1980’s years before CDMA’s (Code Division Multiple Access…2G and 3G) introduction in the early 1990’s, I thought I would provide some interesting details to how CDMA came to be.

While GSM is in fact older from a commercial standpoint – CDMA technology is actually older overall, and was first developed at the beginning of World War II. The original application was as a method for remotely controlling torpedoes. At that time though, it was never implemented due to a lack of feasibility in the current technological climate.

As transmission technology improved, it wasn’t long before the US military began using CDMA to send and receive secure messages during the cold war. Because CDMA uses spread-spectrum technology – which is the process of dividing messages into tiny fragments and sending them over several different frequencies – CDMA is inherently secure.

Each fragment is tagged with a code that only the sender and receiver know, and thus the overall message can’t be reassembled by someone in the middle intercepting the fragmented data.

In the mid-1980’s, the US government declassified CDMA technology, and a few years later it began to be tested for commercial use.

So the answer is:  CDMA.

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About the Author: Jeff Poirior

Jeff brings 25 years of telecommunications and information technology management experience in voice and data networking, server support, and telephony and security; with a significant emphasis on customer service. Prior to joining Valicom, he was chief of the infrastructure support section for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Jeff was the vice president of operations for CC&N, overseeing telecommunications, help desk, data and desk side support services. Prior to that, he served as the associate director of technical resources for Covance, responsible for managing systems and network operations supporting 1700 users in Wisconsin and Virginia. He has also led data center operations at Magnetek Electric, supporting mainframe systems, client/server applications, telephony systems, and computer-aided design. Jeff holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cardinal Stritch University and a master’s degree in business administration from University of Phoenix. In addition, Jeff is a past board member of the Wisconsin Telecommunication Association.