Wireless Phone Glossary

Analog - The Analog cell phone technology was the first one to appear, in the 1980's. Analog service does not provide advanced services such as Short Messages or downloadable ringtones. Additionally, during a conversation on an analog network, users may hear scratches and static noises that are not usually heard on digital phones. Today, all phones on the market are digital, but in North-America, a certain share of the territory, in general rural areas, is still only working in analog mode. To provide users with a larger coverage, either digital or analog, some cell phone makers still include analog roaming capability in their phones. Not all digital phones have that feature, which is usefull to those traveling out of the most populated areas.

CDMA - Code-division multiple access access - a digital cellular technology that uses spread-spectrum techniques. Unlike competing systems, such as GSM, that use TDMA, CDMA does not assign a specific frequency to each user. Instead, every channel uses the full available spectrum. Individual conversations are encoded with a pseudo-random digital sequence.

TDMA - Time-division multiple access - a technology for delivering digital wireless service using time-division multiplexing (TDM). TDMA works by dividing a radio frequency into time slots and then allocating slots to multiple calls. In this way, a single frequency can support multiple, simultaneous data channels. TDMA is used by the GSM digital cellular system.

GSM - Global system for mobile communication - one of the leading digital cellular systems. GSM uses narrowband TDMA , which allows eight simultaneous calls on the same radio frequency.

Cellular - Refers to communications systems, especially the Advance Mobile Phone Service (AMPS), that divide a geographic region into sections, called cells. The purpose of this division is to make the most use out of a limited number of transmission frequencies. Each connection, or conversation, requires its own dedicated frequency, and the total number of available frequencies is about 1,000. To support more than 1,000 simultaneous conversations, cellular systems allocate a set number of frequencies for each cell. Two cells can use the same frequency for different conversations so long as the cells are not adjacent to each other.