GSM versus CDMA

Since we all use mobile phones while on the road chasing I think this is a viable topic.

Can anyone give me a good pitch on why I'd pick GSM over CDMA or vice versa? Who's got the best technology (Cingular or Verizon)? Who's got the best technology in the pipeline? What about data?

I don't want this to turn into a flame war but my contract is up and I thinking about buying a smartphone, just don't know from who yet. And yes, we can all agree that the customer service at all cell phone providers is horrible.
 
The one thing I can say for certain is Cingular has better coverage tha Verizon in the southern plains. My partners this year had both and we alsmot always had a signal with Cingular but with Verizon it was spotty. Even in Amarillo they couldnt make a call, I switched to Cingular just a few months ago so I havent had the chance to try data downloads yet but from what I have heard from other chasers it is much better than Verizon.

Here are the coverage maps for both

http://onlinestore.cingular.com/html/Maps/...ion_GSM_map.htm

http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/Coverag...type=NEWREQUEST
 
I've been happy with Cingular, except their coverage in western/northern Kansas is weak. From their coverage maps, the area north of I70 is basically receptionless, as it the area west of, I duno, Pratt maybe. Unfortunately, I was north of I70 in northern KS twice this year, both times desperately wanting coverage, and both times having to use wifi (which isn't easy up there) and pay phones. A good cell antenna will help!

As for data down the pipeline. Cingular currently has GPRS (like dial-up, but not nearly as slow as CSD data) coverage wherever they provide voice coverage, while the EDGE coverage is slightly less. Cingular will have UMTS coverage (TRUE 3G speeds) in 5-6 markets by the end of the year, and into most major markets by the end of 2006. Now, I'm not sure how important this is, since most of our chasing is done "in the boonies" and thus I can't imagine that anything faster than EDGE will be nationwide within a couple of years. Then again, I'm not expert, so...
 
I use Sprint PCS, and just like everyone else in Western Ks there is not alot of towers out there yet. Sprint is nice I do get about 100k downloads which is not bad for mobile. But once you are out of coverage you are toast for internet. I know Sprint is testing something called EVDO which will do real broadband speeds (700k to 1.5 megs DL) but it really only works in majior metro areas. I know Sprint is moving out into western Ks, this year I got internet from Wichita to Dodge City and I think on I-70 past Russell. Try this link
http://www.sprint.com/pcsbusiness/coverage.../towermaps.html
 
Can I step in on this one since I work for Cingular. GSM versus CDMA. That is something I find my self asking sometimes while trouble shooting customers phones. Honestly, I don't think either. I mean both technologys have there pro's and con's, I mean it's technology, what electronic device, signal, ect. dosen't screw up and fail. But, when you do take into account as far as coverage, GSM does genrally beat CDMA. And our Edge system is not broadband but when I signed up this year for my laptop connect service for my laptop I was genrally impressed with it when you have full signal. And as for coverage in Kansas. It sucks. I think for just about anyone. Thats why I am going to invest in a cellular amp. If anyone lives in western Kansas and owns land PM me. We are always looking to increase our coverage and if you own land Cingular will in some cases lease it from you to put a tower (lightning rod) on it. Honestly it comes down to a matter of opinion with which is better. I know I didn't contribute much but hey if you have any questions I can answer i will be more that happy to help. Have a good day everyone.

Notice I didn't make comment to the customer service. Trust me i wish I handled the plains markets for us.
 
Thanks for the comments everyone. James, please feel free to pitch me on Cingular, I'm open ears.

I've been doing a lot of research on the internet looking at the two technologies. Basically how they cram so many phone conversations into such narrow frequency bands. Correct me if I am wrong, but here are some interesting things I found out. The range on a CDMA tower is 110km, only 35km on GSM. If you move between cells on GSM the call is dropped. When cells are overloaded CDMA can degrade quality to allow more users, GSM retains quality but drops calls. Everything I see says that data rates are faster on CDMA and the newest GSM technologies down the pipeline are actually a form of CDMA called WCDMA.
 
I use Sprint PCS, and just like everyone else in Western Ks there is not alot of towers out there yet. Sprint is nice I do get about 100k downloads which is not bad for mobile. But once you are out of coverage you are toast for internet. I know Sprint is testing something called EVDO which will do real broadband speeds (700k to 1.5 megs DL) but it really only works in majior metro areas. I know Sprint is moving out into western Ks, this year I got internet from Wichita to Dodge City and I think on I-70 past Russell. Try this link
http://www.sprint.com/pcsbusiness/coverage/towermaps.html

Just a FYI for prospective Sprint customers: Sprint doesn't like it when you hook your cell up to your laptop and suck data through their high-speed Vison network. Their TOS explicitly forbids it. That said, what I've read on the net is that they do look the other way so long as you don't suck a large amount of data. Word on the street is that 300MB to 1GB per month is the "cap". If they do decide to go after you, they charge $.01 per kb.

You can, of course, still suck data through their slooowww wireless web option without fear of reprisal. But you have to sign up for WW first. This is an old product (that has been replaced by the Vision scheme), and I don't know if you can even get it any more -- my local Sprint reps had never heard of it, and I couldn't find anyone on Sprint's 800 number who'd heard of it, either.
 
Just as a notice, Cingular's coverage in western and northern KS is really filling in. The website doesn't show the latest coverage map, but from the map at http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php?t=739310 , there has been a large increase in Cingular coverage in the previous coverage holes of western and northern KS. That void in northern KS (between the NE/KS border and I70) has plagued me several times in the past couple of chase seasons.

Unfortunately, there has been some loss in northwestern OK. I assume this used to be AT&T Wireless coverage on which Cingular roamed. Now that AllTel has taken AT&T towers in Oklahoma, I assume Cingular doesn't have a roaming contract with AllTel. Certainly not for sure, but the tminig of the coverage loss coincides pretty well with the ATT/AllTel handoff in Oklahoma.
 
Ehhh.....

We have flirted with almost every cellphone carrier you can imagine over the past two years. AT&T were awful and we only kept them for one chase season (2004) - and we thought we'd experienced the worst. But then along came Cingular.

We used Cingular over the 2005 chase season and it SUCKED. Royally. I'd say during our travels we were able to get reception to make a phonecall about 40% of the times we actually needed it. We had data coverage more than we did voice - which is nice but I'm afraid I still class cellphone carriers on the ability to T-A-L-K to people when I want to.

Some folks have suggested that we did not have an external antenna and that was why we couldn't get service. This may be - but we won't be using Cingular again - ever.

I myself carry an old Nokia 5165 TDMA Trakfone - and I can count at least three occasions in the past two chase seasons where a) Tim Marshall, B) Dave Gold and c) my husband have had to use it to make contact with people which was dependant on whether we (or they) succeeded or failed on a chase day. :lol: . It rocks. It's also good for emergencies.

Guess it'll be onto Verizon or Sprint next year.......the great unknowns.

My 0.0s!

KR
 
We have a TDMA Tracfone... we've never had any problem getting reception in urban or rural areas. On the other hand I've had a couple of friends on Verizon and Cingular (GSM phones) come out here and lose service. I think GSM is best for travelled areas and TDMA/CDMA for the gaps, so a multi-mode phone (even with analog fallback) would be optimal.

Example of Cingular's GSM coverage:
Cingular%20GSM.gif


Tim
 
We have to remember that there was a massive investment and installation of TDMA/CDMA towers prior to GSM catching on.. so picking providers that are based on CDMA technology might still be a better move for the plains (that would rule out Verizon and Cingular). Many CDMA phones still also have TDMA (edit: should be AMPS not TDMA) analog capabilities as well; the same cannot be said for the GSM counterpart.

As time goes along I suspect GSM will catch up with the CDMA coverage.
 
Originally posted by John B Erwin
We have to remember that there was a massive investment and installation of TDMA/CDMA towers prior to GSM catching on.. so picking providers that are based on CDMA technology might still be a better move for the plains (that would rule out Verizon and Cingular). Many CDMA phones still also have TDMA analog capabilities as well; the same cannot be said for the GSM counterpart.

As time goes along I suspect GSM will catch up with the CDMA coverage.

Verizon service is based on CDMA not GSM...Sprint PCS and Altell are the others on CDMA. Cingular (also ATT) has moved towards GSM, the old ATT system that Cingular bought was TDMA but switching over to GSM and T-mobile (Old Voicestream) is on the GSM system. But the main problem is there is not ONE service provider that can handle what we need it for in the plains. I mean voice service is fine but data is the problem.

In the plains you should see more CDMA towers than GSM since CDMA can cover more area with one tower. http://www.bciit.ac.in/magazine/inside/art10.htm
 
Originally posted by Jay Cazel
Verizon service is based on CDMA not GSM...Sprint PCS and Altell are the others on CDMA. Cingular (also ATT) has moved towards GSM, the old ATT system that Cingular bought was TDMA but switching over to GSM and T-mobile (Old Voicestream) is on the GSM system. But the main problem is there is not ONE service provider that can handle what we need it for in the plains. I mean voice service is fine but data is the problem.

Thank you, I stand corrected on that. I also mis-identifed the analog service... I meant to say AMPS not TDMA.

Of course a lot will depend on a given situation, but I chased with a CDMA phone this year and had fair to very-good data coverage most of the time I really needed it, (although a lot of that might have been luck) and voice coverage all over (although some of that was analog). I had used GSM the past couple years with very poor service... but to be fair the coverage has increased greatly since then. In all cases I've always used an exterior antenna for the best possible signal.

I would still stick to CDMA coverage for now... seem to still have a bit of an edge over GSM in my opinion. Having a TDMA backup option might still be a good idea in the interim regardless of what your main setup is.
 
As an international chaser I have experienced nothing but woes when it comes to getting a data connection over a cell phone in the US. The root problem being that all the US plans are yearly and that you need a US credit card and a US address in order to even sign up for a phone. (how simple it would be if I could just buy a US phone and plan).

For the last two years I have used my UK cell phone and just swallowed the $11.20 /MB cost for data – or course this just means that I make maximum use of free hotel WiFi and any information that I can get from a friendly chaser( of which there are many).

Our UK cell phones (the so call tri band ones) share the GSM1900 frequency with both the UK and the US. However we are now able to get phones that are quad band and also operate on the GSM850 band as well as the CDMA2100 band.

Overall If I get gat data with my UK phone then I will go with that – but the best move for us international chaser is to get a track phone, load it up with $100 credit and phone back to the UK for a now cast – crazy I know.
 
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