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GSM connectivity now enjoyed by 4 billion

Take that, CDMA

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GSM is well on the way to global domination, with one-time rival CDMA serving a mere 423 million compared to the four billion who'll soon be able to make a GSM call.

The news comes from industry advocate group 3G Americas, who reckon that by the end of September phones compliant with the GSM family of standards will be in the hands of four billion people around the world, crushing the Qualcomm-dominated competition.

Except it's not quite that simple: GSM may well be the dominant standard but its 3G implementation is technically known as Wideband CDMA - borrowing much technology from its former competitor - while LTE, the 4th-generation version of GSM, bears little resemblance to its grandparent at all.

According to 3G Americas, about three and a half billion of those users are still on first-generation GSM (known as 2G technology, to separate it from its analogue predecessor), with the rest being on 3G W-CDMA. No one is using LTE quite yet, though that will happen.

So CDMA, iDEN, PDC and TDMA are all destined to survive in tiny niches, if at all, but what of TD-SCDMA and CDMA-2000? The latter pair are two of the three mandated networks in China - to be run by China Mobile and China Telecom respectively - whilst China Unicom gets to use W-CDMA like the rest of the world.

China is an enormous market, and one with huge expansion opportunities, but even China is going to have a hard time pushing against a standard that's already been adopted by four billion people. ®

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