How to Speak Wireless

By Lee Pender, CIO |  Networking

CDMA (code division multiple access) U.S. wireless carriers, such as Sprint PCS and Verizon, use CDMA to allocate bandwidth for users of digital wireless devices. CDMA distinguishes between multiple transmissions carried simultaneously on a single wireless signal. It carries the transmissions on that signal, freeing network room for the wireless carrier and providing interference-free calls for the user. Several versions of the standard are still under development. CDMA promises to open up network capacity for wireless carriers and improve the quality of wireless messages and users' access to the wireless airwaves. It's an alternative to GSM, which is popular in Europe and Asia (see GSM).

CDPD (cellular digital packet data) Telecommunications companies can use CDPD to transfer data on unussed cellular networks to users. If one section, or "cell," of the network is overtaxed, CDPD automatically allows for the reallocation of resources.

Cellular Technology that sends analog or digital transmissions from transmitters that have areas of coverage called cells. As a user "" of a cellular phone moves between transmitters from one cell to another, the user's call travels from transmitter to transmitter uninterrupted.

Circuit switched Used by wireless carriers, this method lets a user connect to a network or the Internet by dialing in, such as with a traditional phone line. It's a dial-in Internet service provider for wireless device users. Circuit-switched connections can be slow and unreliable compared with packet-switched networks, but for now circuit-switched networks are the primary method of Internet and network access for wireless users in the United States (see Packet-switched network).

Dual-band mobile phone Phones that support both analog and digital technologies by picking up analog signals when digital signals fade. Most mobile phones are not dual-band.

EDGE (enhanced data GSM environment) A faster version of the GSM standard. It is faster than GSM because it can carry messages using broadband networks that employ more bandwidth than standard GSM networks (see GSM).

FDMA (frequency division multiple access) An analog standard that lets multiple users access a group of radio frequency bands and eliminates interference of message traffic.

Frequency hopping spread spectrum A method by which a carrier spreads out packets of information (voice or data) over different frequencies. For example, a phone call is carried on several different frequencies so that when one frequency is lost another picks up the call without breaking the connection.

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