What Is A GSM Network? CDMA vs GSM Which Is Better?

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Do you know anything about What Is A GSM Network? The Global System for Mobile Communications, or GSM, is the most frequently used standard for the second generation of mobile networks, sometimes known as 2G. The GSM Network employs a hybrid of frequency division multiple access (FDMA) and time division multiple access (TDMA) (TDMA).

What Is A GSM Network?

GSM is a mobile operator that uses a mix of FDMA and TDMA to divide the frequency band available to them into smaller pieces of frequency channels, and then further break the channels down into time slots. Through circuit-switching, these time slots are responsible for accommodating voice calls.

GSM Network

GSM Carrier Technology Architecture

The following are the main components of the GSM Carrier architecture.

Operation and Support Subsystem (OSS)

The operation support subsystem (OSS) is a component of the GSM network architecture in its entirety. This is linked to the components of the NSS and the BSC. This OSS is primarily used to manage the GSM network and the traffic load on the BSS.

It should be noted that as the number of BS increases due to subscriber population scaling, part of the maintenance chores is moved to the base transceiver stations, lowering the system’s ownership cost.

The 2G GSM network architecture is mostly based on a logical approach to operation. This is far simpler than current mobile phone network topologies, which rely on software-defined units to provide extremely flexible operation.

The architecture of 2G GSM, on the other hand, will show the voice and operational essential functions that are necessary, as well as how they are organized. The network is a data network when the GSM system is digital.

Mobile Station

It is a mobile phone that consists of a transceiver, a display, and a CPU, all of which are controlled by a SIM card that operates across a network.

Mobile stations (MS) or mobile equipment (ME) are most commonly identified by cell phones, which are part of a GSM mobile communications network that the operator monitors and maintains.

Their size has shrunk dramatically in recent years, while their functionality has skyrocketed. Another advantage is that the time between charges has significantly increased. There are several components to a mobile phone, but the hardware and SIM are the most important.

The hardware of a mobile phone includes the case, display, battery, and electronics that generate the signal and process the data receiver to be broadcasted.

The IMEI number is found on the mobile station. This is put up on the phone during production and cannot be changed. The network accesses it during registration to see if the equipment has been reported stolen.

The SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card contains the information that identifies the user to the network. It also contains additional information, such as an IMSI number (International Mobile Subscriber Identity). When this IMSI is utilized in the SIM card, the mobile user can easily switch phones by just shifting the SIM from one to the other.

As a result, the ease with which individuals can change their phones without having to change their phone numbers means that consumers will upgrade more frequently, generating additional revenue for network operators and contributing to GSM’s overall financial success.

Base Station Subsystem (BSS)

It serves as a link between the mobile phone and the network subsystem. It is made up of the Base Transceiver Station, which houses the radio transceivers and manages the protocols for mobile phone communication.

The Base Station Controller, which manages the Base Transceiver station and serves as an interface between the mobile station and the mobile switching center, is also included.

The network subsystem supplies the mobile stations with basic network connectivity. The Mobile Service Switching Centre, which offers access to various networks such as ISDN, PSTN, and others, is the most basic component of the Network Subsystem.

It also includes the Home Location Register and the Visitor Location Register, which are responsible for GSM call routing and roaming. It also contains the Equipment Identity Register, which keeps track of all mobile devices, each of which is identified by its own IMEI number. The abbreviation for (IMEI) is “International Mobile Equipment Identity.”

The BSS, or Base Station Subsystem, part of a second-generation GSM network design is primarily responsible for connecting mobile phones to the network.

Network Switching Subsystem (NSS)

Different aspects are included in the GSM system architecture, which is commonly referred to as the core system/network. It is essentially a data network that consists of a number of components that provide key control and interface for the complete mobile network system.

What Frequencies Does GSM Use?

Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) is used in GSM networks, which means that the downlink and uplink communications use separate frequency bands. In our blog What frequency does GSM use?, we go over more about FDD and GSM frequencies.

The GSM frequency band for the uplink was 890 MHz to 915 MHz, and the downlink was 935 MHz to 960 MHz when GSM networks were first deployed. The Prime GSM band, or P-GSM, is the original frequency band.

What Frequencies Does GSM Use

Later, the principal GSM spectrum was extended to accommodate more frequency channels. As a result, the uplink and downlink frequency bands were each given an extra 10 MHz. This is known as Extended GSM or E-GSM, with uplink frequencies ranging from 880 to 915 MHz and downlink frequencies ranging from 925 to 960 MHz.

The frequency channels in GSM Networks are assigned numbers or IDs known as Absolute Radio Frequency Numbers and operate in pairs (uplink/downlink) (ARFCN). In both P-GSM and E-GSM, each ARFCN has a channel bandwidth of 200 kHz. More about ARFCNs can be found in the GSM frequency post we mentioned before.


Both are multiple access protocols, which means that several calls can be routed through a single tower. However, as you can see, the primary difference between the two is the method your data is turned into radio waves that your phone transmits and receives. Of course, there are other practical issues that are more important to us as consumers, which are stated below:

International Roaming

In your home market, it makes no difference what kind of network you use; instead, the focus is on the coverage you have. When it comes to international roaming, however, GSM has the advantage, as there are far more GSM networks around the world, as well as roaming agreements between various providers.

If you have an unlocked GSM phone, you also have the option of picking up a local SIM card wherever you go. However, depending on the device and network compatibility, you may not have complete data connectivity.

Network Coverage

Network coverage is determined by the infrastructure in place by the carrier, not by whether it is a CDMA vs GSM network. Globally, GSM networks are significantly more prevalent, but in the United States, Verizon Wireless, a CDMA network, has the most subscribers and the most extensive coverage.

SIM Cards

Prior to the introduction of 4G LTE, the SIM card was the most evident distinction between GSM and CDMA handsets. CDMA phones lacked a SIM card slot, although GSM phones did. To put it another way, CDMA is a handset-based technology that assigns a phone number to a specific device.

If you wanted to upgrade to a new phone, you’d need to contact your network carrier, deactivate the old one, and activate the new one. When transferring GSM devices, however, the phone number is attached to the SIM card, thus all you have to do is insert the SIM card into the new device. To get started, all you need is a new phone.

What Is GSM Carrier?

Many mobile phone customers in Europe and other parts of the world use the GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) digital mobile network.

What Is GSM Band?

The ITU has allocated specific cellular frequencies for GSM mobile phones and other mobile devices. These frequencies are known as GSM frequency bands or frequency ranges.

Is T Mobile GSM Or CDMA?

The T-Mobile network is not a CDMA network but adheres to GSM network specifications.

CDMA Vs GSM Carriers

GSM guides the Global System for Mobile Communications, whereas CDMA stands for Code Division Multiple Access. GSM utilizes TDMA and FDMA (Frequency Division Multiple Access) (Time division multiple access). GSM allows for simultaneous voice and data transmission, whereas CDMA does not.


Finalizing What Is A GSM Network? GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) is a digital mobile network widely utilized in Europe and other areas of the world by mobile phone users.

The most frequently used of the three digital wireless telephony technologies: TDMA, GSM, and code-division multiple access (CDMA), GSM employs a version of time division multiple access (TDMA) (CDMA).

Before delivering data through a channel with two other user data streams, each with its own time slot, GSM digitizes and compresses it. It uses the 900 megahertz (MHz) or 1,800 megahertz (MHz) frequency bands.

Frequently Asked Questions

What GSM carriers are there?

What Exactly Is GSM? Verizon GSM or CDMA, US Cellular, and the old Sprint network (now owned by T-Mobile) all employ CDMA in the United States. GSM is used by AT&T and T-Mobile. GSM is used by the majority of the remainder of the world.

How can I tell whether my phone is a GSM phone?

Look for the model number on the internet. On both iPhone and Android Smartphones, the same settings can be used to obtain your model number. Your phone’s model number is usually printed on the rear. Once you have your model number, a quick Google search will reveal if your phone is GSM or CDMA.

What’s the distinction between GSM and CDMA networks?

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) produced the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) standard to describe the protocols for second-generation (2G) digital cellular networks used by mobile devices such as phones and tablets.

Is it better to use CDMA or GSM?

The global standards for cell phone communication are CDMA and GSM, although none is fundamentally superior to the other. GSM phones can even work in nations having GSM networks that are compatible, allowing for more international roaming. In the United States, GSM reaches rural areas better than CDMA.

Does Verizon accept GSM phones that have been unlocked?

The good news is that Verizon’s 4G LTE phones are all unlocked right out of the box. GSM compatibility is required, as well as support for the same LTE frequency bands as AT&T and T-Mobile.

Is Verizon making the transition to GSM?

Carriers are dismantling their 2G and 3G infrastructure as they build out 5G networks. Verizon will begin to migrate all devices to the HD Voice LTE network on December 31, 2020.

Is it true that all SIM cards are GSM?

Contact information can also be stored on many SIM cards. On GSM phones, SIM cards are always required; on CDMA phones, they are only required for LTE-capable handsets.

Is it possible to get a phone that supports both GSM and CDMA?

You don’t have to worry about which phone to acquire or which carrier to switch to because most contemporary phones work with both GSM and CDMA technology. Consider GSM or CDMA providers if you need a new plan for your older phone.

What is a GSM unlocked phone, exactly?

The term “unlocked GSM phone” refers to a phone that is not tied to a certain carrier network. On the plus side, it gives you the opportunity to choose your own GSM carrier based on your demands (and budget). On the negative side, some carrier-specific functionality may be unavailable.

Is T Mobile a CDMA or GSM provider?

T-Mobile uses a GSM network, while Sprint uses a CDMA network. Our advice is to purchase an unlocked phone that supports GSM and, in most cases, Sprint’s network. (See our Best Android Phones, Best Cheap Phones, and Best iPhones guides for our picks.)

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