This page last changed on Jan 15, 2007 by stepheneb.

Cell Phone Network Technologies

As in wired networking there has been a trend from circuit-switched to packet-switched network protocols. A circuit-switched network allocates one channel for a transmission from start to end. This is how the telephone system used to work. A packet-switched network can use one channel for many separate transmissions by dividing each transmission up into packets and interleaving the packets from multiple transmissions into one channel. This is how internet-based protocols work.

The terms 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G are used to broadly classify the technology and capacity of the cellular networks.

  • 1G: Analog networks (towers use digital signaling between towers however there is no digital communication from handset to tower).
  • 2G: Digital network technologies are used for voice and signaling. Shorter range and lower power than analog. Packet-data services can be more easily added. Categorized into two protocols:
    • TDMA: GSM, iDEN, PDC (only used in Japan), IS-136 (only used in the US). Packet-data protocols include: GPRS and EDGE.
    • CDMA: IS-95 (US and parts of Asia). Packet-data protocols include: IS-2000 (CDMA2000).
  • 3G: digital networks supporting simultaneous voice and data
  • 4G: predicted to be an IP-based convergence of wired and wireless technologies.

2G to 4G Cellular Technologies

CDMA: Code division multiple access

  • IS-95 (cdmaOne): This is a technology initially developed and implemented by the US company Qualcomm for 2G networks. It is mainly used by the large US carriers Verizon and Sprint.
  • CDMA2000 (IS-2000): There are two versions of CDMA2000 in use:
    • CDMA2000 1x: Adds increased digital channels for voice and data as compared to IS-95. This is considered an add-on to 2G networks which are then sometimes described as 2.5G.
      • data rate: 144 kbps
      • US Carriers: Verizon, Sprint, MetroPCS, Alltel, Cellular South, U.S. Cellular, and Cricket Communications
    • CDMA2000 1xEV-DO (IS-856): (often called just EVDO) is similar to 1x with High Data Rate (HDR) capability added and where the forward link is time-division multiplexed. Some carriers have been closing their EVDO networks in favor of HSDPA in UMTS networks. protocols on UMTS networks.
      • download data rate: 4.9 Mbps x allocated carrier channel
      • upload data rate: 1.8 Mbps x allocated carrier channel
      • US Carriers: Verizon, Sprint
  • W-CDMA: Wideband Code Division Multiple Access W-CDMA is a 3G competitor to CDMA2000 1xEV-DO.

TDMA: Time division multiple access

  • GSM: Global System for Mobile Communications: The most popular 2G cell network technology across the world. In the US the major carriers are Cingular (owned by AT&T) and T-Mobile. There are three types of data transmission protocols in wide use in GSM networks
    • Circuit Switched Data: These protocols have low network latency and are usually charged the same as a voice call.
      • CSD: Circuit Switched Data This older data transmission technology uses a single voice circuit to deliver up to a 9.6 kbps data rate.
      • HSCSD: High-Speed Circuit Switched Data: This is an incremental improvement based on CSD where up to eight radio channels can be bundled. Combining the extra channels with an improvement in coding leads to a maximum data rate of 144 kbps.
    • GPRS: is a packet-switched technology usually charged by per kilobyte transferred. Some carriers offer a flat-rate plan.
      • data rate: 30-40 kbps in real use
      • high latency (6-700 ms)
    • EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) is a higher-speed packet data technology for GSM networks sometimes called E-GPRS.
      • data rate 236.8 kbps (using four time slots)
      • In the US the major carriers are Cingular (owned by AT&T) and T-Mobile.

OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing)

OFDM is the basis for ongoing work towards 4G cellular networks.

Data Oriented Cellular Services

*Short Message Service (SMS) often called text messaging.

Document generated by Confluence on Jan 27, 2014 16:56