CDMA vs GSM: Difference and Comparison

Prevalent in different parts of the world, there are certain technologies that aid in achieving access to multiple network channels at once, and CDMA and GSM happen to be with two major ones out of all those technologies.

However, these two technologies cannot be equated to one as there are a lot of differences that exist between these two. 

Key Takeaways

  1. CDMA and GSM are cellular network standards, with GSM being widely adopted worldwide.
  2. GSM supports simultaneous voice and data usage, while CDMA does not offer this feature.
  3. GSM networks use SIM cards for device identification, whereas CDMA devices have embedded identification information.


CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) is a radio network used by wireless carriers. It does not need any SIM card and operates on ESNs. GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) supports transmitting data and voice both at once. It uses SIM cards to connect a mobile phone with its network.


CDMA is basically a very popular technology in the United States that provides access to multiple network systems to its customers and grabs more than 20% share of the relevant market.

However, this technology has still not been able to surpass its other counterparts of it. It stands for code division multiple access and operates on basically a national level. 

But on the other hand, GSM is a similar but totally different network providing technology, and except the United States of

America, this technology rules the market in almost all the countries that are possible using any kind of similar technology. It stands for Global System for Mobile Communications.  

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison CDMA GSM 
Full form It stands for Code Division Multiple Access. It stands for a Global System for Mobile Communications.  
Storage type Storage type is internal memory and no insertable card is needed. Storage is done in a SIM card and the sim card enable network access. 
Dominant in Most United States uses this technology. It is dominant everywhere except America. 
Market share  It holds approximately 25% share of the market. It holds approximately 75% share of the market. 
Access to International Roaming Less access to international roaming  Comparatively more access to international roaming  
Frequency band The frequency happens to be 850 Hz. Frequency happens to be – 850,900,1800 and 1900 Hz. 

What is CDMA? 

CDMA basically stands for code division multiple access technologies, and it is seen as most popular in one country that is the United States of America.

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The basic idea behind this kind of technology is to enable the user to access certain network channels, however, keeping him in certain limitations as well.  

This technology does not use any kind of insertable card but uses certain specific mobile phones in order to access the desired network channel.

The biggest reason behind less popularity of this particular system is that it not just provides international roaming to a very limited extent but also happens to be very confined in its method of operation.

Another major disadvantage attached to this particular technology is that data transmission is not at all possible in this technology, and only voice calls can be exchanged. 

Only a single kind of frequency that is 850 Hertz, is provided by this technology, and this somehow limits the scope of customers that can potentially use the service.

According to the market survey, approximately 25% share of the market has been designated to this particular service, and in other countries except for the United States of America, it happens to be less popular. 


What is GSM? 

GSM Basically stands for global system for mobile communications, and it happens to be one of the major or rather the most prominent network access systems present all across the world.

Apart from the United States of America, the system is prevalent in almost all the countries that use mobile phones, and the biggest reason behind this kind of popularity is the distinguished and multiple advantages provided by this technology to its users. 

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The major revolutionary feature of this technology is that it not just supports voice calls but also supports data transmission as well which makes it easier for people to access the Internet on their mobile phones.

A particular insertable card that is known as a SIM card is used in this particular system, and the user is then connected to a certain network on which he can access multiple network channels at once.  

In normal circumstances during the data transmission, a GSM network provides approximately 50 Mbps speed and enables superfast calls and data transfer.

The technology provides multiple frequency rates at one time, such as 850 Hertz 900 Hertz, 1800 Hertz, and 1900 Hertz, etc.

Not just this, this technology also enables international roaming at a very large level and allows super fast access to international network channels as well.

Due to all of the attached advantages, this particular technology owns up to 75% share in the relevant customer market.  


Main Differences Between CDMA and GSM 

  1. CDMA stand for code division for multiple access, while on the other hand, GSM stands for global system for mobile communications.  
  2. CDMA provides a frequency of 850 Hz only, while on the other hand, GSM provides many frequencies like 850,900,1800,1900 Hz. 
  3. CDMA is popular in the Unites States only, while on the other hand, GSM is popular all across the world. 
  4. CDMA holds a 25% share of the market, while on the other hand, GSM holds the most out of it. 
  5. CDMA gives less access to international roaming systems, while on the other hand, GSM gives access to international roaming more.  
Difference Between CDMA and GSM



Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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