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Mobile Telephone Technologies

Service Band
 Cellular - 800 MHz (2 blocks) - Verizon and AT&T.
 PCS - 1900 MHz (6 blocks) (called "DCS" in Europe ) - Sprint, T-Mobile and a few AT&T
 Analog services use 800 MHz in North America and 900 MHz in Europe,
  Asia and Australia.
 1800 MHz range - the 1800 MHz GSM standard is used in Europe.
  This unfortunately means that 1900 MHz phones sold in North America
  can't be used in Europe unless they are quad-band, which many are.
  My 15 year old clam-shell phone was quad-band and worked in Europe
 SMR - Specalized Mobil Radio 800 MHz band between Cellular A and
    B blocks used by NEXTEL and 2-way radio services.
    See Electromagnetic Spectrum
GSM Bands MHz
Most common (see links below for a list by country)
US - 850, 1700, 1900
Canada - 700, 1700, 1900, 2600
Puerto Rico - 700, 1700
Latin America - 700,1700,1800, 2600
Caribean - 700, 1700 1800, 1900
Africa - 800, 1800, 2600
Australia, New Zealand 700, 1800
Asia - 1800, 1900, 2300, 2500, 2600
Japan - 700, 900, 1500, 2100
Middle East - 800, 1800, 2600
Europe - 800, 1800, 2600

Quad-band phones - 850, 1900, 900, 1800
iPhone 6
 700, 850, 900, 1700, 1800, 1900, 2100, 2600 
Samsung Galaxy S6
700, 800, 850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100, 2600

Cellular frequencies - Wikipedia
List of LTE networks - Wikipedia
GSM World Coverage Map- GSM Country List by frequency bands |

3G Bands

G920F: B1(2100), B2(1900), B5(850), B8(900)
G920I:  B1(2100), B2(1900), B5(850), B8(900), B4(AWS)

4G Bands

G920F: B1(2100), B2(1900), B3(1800), B4(AWS), B5(850), B7(2600), B8(900),
       B12(700), B17(700), B18(800), B19(800), B26(800), B20(800)
G920I:  B1(2100), B2(1900), B3(1800), B4(AWS), B5(850), B7(2600), B8(900),
       B12(700), B17(700), B18(800), B19(800), B26(800), B28(700)) 
Technology (see Glossary below) AMPS Advanced Mobile phone service (old AT&T service) CDMA Code Division Multiple Access (Verizon and Sprint) TDMA Time Division Multiple Access (predecessor to GSM) GSM Global System for Mobile Communications (AT&T and T-Mobile) iDEN - Integrated Digital Enhanced Network used by NEXTEL LTE Long Term Evolution (4G) - All major service providers are using LTE See Mobil Phone Services and Vendors for specific service provider information. Data Evolution Data Technologies
CDMA vs GSM - Difference and Comparison |


1978 AT&T/Bell Labs AMPS trial around Chicago using 
1979 88 cell system in Tokyo using  using Matsushita and NEC equipment. 
1983  First commercial mobil  service in the US. 
  800 MHz band divided into A and B Blocks (25 MHz each), one given
  to the local wireline telephone company and one to a competitor.
1985 204K Subscribers in the US
1987 First handheld phone by Ericsson
1982-1985 GSM in Europe
1988 1.6M Subscribers in the US
1993 CDMA adopted by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA).
1995 First CDMA mobil phone service.
1994 FCC auctions off first block of frequencies in 1900 MHz (PCS) band.
A & B blocks (30 MHz) in Major Trading Areas (multiple cities)
1995 C block (30 MHz) auctioned in Basic Trading Areas (1 metro area)
1996 D, E & F blocks (10 MHz) auctioned in Basic Trading Areas
2000 GPRS (2.5G) data service initiated
2001 123 M Subscribers in the US
2003 EDGE (2.75G)  data services initiated by AT&T
2004 EVDO (3G) services initiated by Verizon
2008 3G data services become common

Third Generation

3G "mobile broadband/multimedia" services - supports features like Web Access and Video Conferencing.

Formed in 2000, 3G.IP member companies are committed to developing a convergent 3G solution revolving around an Internet protocol-based core network. In particular, 3G.IP will concentrate its efforts in the areas of GPRS and EDGE technologies.

Data Evolution

Carriers that used to offer GSM (which is TDMA-based) have pretty much replaced their 2G GSM service with 3G UMTS/W-CDMA, which - just like CDMA2000 - is CDMA-based.

5G from KeySight

The history and evolution of 3G and 4G cellular technologies. | Content content from Electronic Design
HSPA dictionary definition | HSPA defined
How mobile broadband works: An introduction to 3.5G and 4G wireless
Verizon LTE devices are going global, (carrier locks so they won't work on other US carriers) | ExtremeTech
3G Newsroom

Verizon 4G LTE - is it still CDMA or GSM?
PCS Frequencies

1850-1865 A
1865-1870 D
1870-1885 B
1885-1890 E
1890-1895 F
1895-1910 C
1910-1930 Unlicensed PCS
1930-1945 A
1945-1950 D
1950-1965 B
1965-1970 D
1970-1975 F
1975-1990 C
How it Works Fequencies are re-used in every other cell. Adjacent cells must use different frequencies to avoid interferience. As a mobil user moves from one cell to the next their call is handed off to the new cell and frequency changed to one in the new cell. However, mobil phone systems also hand off calls to adjacent cells when a cell gets overloaded, so a stationary user can also experience handoff.

2G and 3G Data Communication Technologies
Technology NetwGener-
Data Rate
EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) CLASS 4 GSM TDMA 2-2.5G 90 to 100
EDGE CLASS 10 GSM TDMA 2-2.5G 140 to 160 Kbps
GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) GSM TDMA 2-2.5G 30 to 40 Kbps
GPRS Class 10 GSM TDMA 2-2.5G 16-24Kbps Send - 24-36Kbps Receive or 8-12Kbps Send - 32-48Kbps Receive
HSPA*(High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) GSM 3.5G 1.8 Mbps
EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) CDMA 3G 2.5-3.1 Mbps
W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) CDMA 3G 384 kbit/s
UMTS(Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) CDMA 3G 1.9 Mbps
HSPA+ (Evolved High-Speed Packet Access) WCDMA (UMTS)
3G 168 Mbps
LTE (Long Term Evolution) OFDMA 4G 100-300 Mbps
WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) IEEE 802.16 4G 30 Mbps
HSPA = High Speed Packet Access HSDPA (Download) and HSUPA (upload) See: Review: Which 3G network is the best? at ComuterWorld

3G - Third generation wireless.
Carriers that used to offer GSM (which is TDMA-based) have pretty much replaced their 2G GSM service with 3G UMTS/W-CDMA, which - just like CDMA2000 - is CDMA-based.
Average speeds are 0.5-3 Mbps. Max 1Mbps

4G - Fourth Generation Wireless.
Average speeds are 9-15 Mbps.

CDMA - Code Division Multiple Access (Sprint, Verizon). a form of multiplexing, which allows numerous signals to occupy a single transmission channel. It uses spread spectrum technology where the data stream for a call is spread across the bandwidth allocated for a carrier.

ESN - Electronic Serial Number - Phone Serial Number used in CDMA phones

Quadband - A phone that can operate on four different frequences (850 and 1900 MHz for North America, 900 and 1800 MHz for overseas).

SIM - See below

TDMA - Time Division Multiple Access . a technology used in digital cellular telephone communication that divides each cellular channel (Old Analogue Advanced Mobile Phone Service [AMPS] channels) into three digital time slots in order to increase the amount of data that can be carried.

smart phones - A phone with more than simple calling capabilities. Over the years, the concept of the smart phone has continued to expand as hand held devices have become more sophisticated. 1990's smartphones simply included a calculator, simple note pad, the ability to send and receive faxes. 2000's smartphones integrates the functionality of a mobile phone, personal digital assistant (PDA), camera QWERTY keypad, ...'

unlocked phones - GSM phones which will recognize a SIM card from any carrier. The "lock" is a software setting that keeps the cell phone "loyal" to one carrier.

1xRTT (Single Carrier Radio Transmission Technology)
The first upgrade to CDMA, 1xRTT (2.5G) has speeds averaging from 50 to 70 Kbps. Offered by Verizon Wireless and Sprint.
2G (second generation)
A basic digital cellular network for voice and data. Data speeds range from 9.6 to 14.4 Kbps.
A step above 2G, 2.5G networks offer data speeds from 30 to 100 Kbps.
3G (third generation)
Carriers that used to offer GSM (which is TDMA-based) have pretty much replaced their 2G GSM service with 3G UMTS/W-CDMA, which - just like CDMA2000 - is CDMA-based.
Data rates of at least 144 Kbps while in motion, and a theoretical maximum of over 2 Mbps from a fixed location.
Third Generation Partnership Project 2
Fourth Generation Wireless.
Average speeds are 5-15 Mbps.
Advanced Mobile phone service. The current cellular technology offered by Cantel AT&T and Mobility Canada, AMPS is an analog system that lacks data capabilities, the shortest battery life and the lowest sound quality. (analog or FDMA) Analog Cellular
Bluetooth was developed as a flexible 2.4-Ghz radio technology that allows the interconnection of mobile and stationary devices, such as cell phones, PDA`s, web pads, notebooks, PCs, and their connection to the Internet. With an output of 1 mW, Bluetooth attains a transmission rate of 1 MB/s and positions itself as the ideal platform for convenient and economical personal networks as well as for inter-connecting multiple mobile devices. The Bluetooth standard today is already planning a potential increase in performance of up to 100 mW.
Code division multiple access, also known as IS-95. Sprint PCS and Verizon use this technology. CDMA offers greater capacity than its competitors TDMA or GSM. To consumers, this means potentially lower rates. CDMA also offers slightly better voice quality than TDMA or GSM. CDMA is popular in Hong Kong, South Korea and parts of the US and Canada. Like other digital systems, it offers data capabilities. Digital Cellular or PCS.
3G technology - Slight variations from W-CDMA, compatible with CDMAone
3G technology - Slight variations from W-CDMA, compatible with CDMAone
cellular digital packet data.
Digital Cellular System. 1991
Enhanced data rates for global evolution. See above
Frequency Division Multiple Access
Global System for Mobile Communications - 1900 (sometimes called PCS-1900 or DCS-1900) PCS only. Originally from Groupe Spécial Mobile. It uses a variation of TDMA. The cellular system most common in Europe, supported in at least 109 countries; Used by AT&T and T-Mobile in the US> As of 2007 GMSM accounted for 82.4% of all global mobile connections.
General Packet Radio Service. Sometimes called 2.5G Supports TDMA and GSM
EDGE (Enhanced Data for Global Evolution)
This 3G network is the second upgrade to GSM and a software upgrade to GPRS. Class 10 EDGE offers up to 236 Kbps. Cingular has converted to EDGE, and T-Mobile is following.
ESN (The Electronic Serial Number)
is a unique, unchangeable 32-bit binary number embedded by the manufacturer that identifies each wireless communications deviceThe ESN and a Mobile Identification Number (MIN) are both automatically transmitted to the wireless network each time the phone is used to verify that it has not been reported lost or stolen and that all subscriber bills are current.
ESN is being replaced by IMEI See also
EV-DO (Evolution Data Only)
The third upgrade to CDMA, 3G EV-DO delivers average speeds of 300 to 500 Kbps, although it promises speeds up to 2.4 Mbps. Offered by Verizon; Sprint will roll out EV-DO in 2009. See above
EV-DV (Evolution Data and Voice)
The most advanced CDMA upgrade. EV-DV merges voice and data traffic as UMTS does, but improves download speeds to up to 3.1 Mbps. It is not yet available in the U.S.
Fast Low-latency Access with Seamless Handoff Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing
A 3G technology developed by Flarion that offers high-speed mobile data access. Average speeds are 1.5 Mbps, with bursts up to 3 Mbps.
GPRS (General Packet Radio Service)
The first upgrade to GSM, this 2.5G network offers data speeds of around 30 to 50 Kbps. Currently almost all GSM networks have GPRS. See above
GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications)
Used by Cingular, T-Mobile, and most European carriers, the 2G GSM network offers voice calling, but its transfer speed is slow (about 9.6 Kbps). Upgrades include GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, and HSDPA.
HFP - Handset Free Profile
HSPA - High Speed Packet Access
A family of high-speed 3G and 4G digital data services available to GSM carriers worldwide.
HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access)
The fourth upgrade to GSM and a software improvement on UMTS. HSDPA allows for faster data speeds--up to 10 Mbps. The implementation Cingular hopes to launch in the U.S. (by year's end), however, will offer 400-to 700-Kbps data rates to start. See above
Handset Profile
ICCID (Integrated Circuit Card Identifier)
Identifies each SIM internationally.
IMSI - international mobile subscriber identity
iDEN (Integrated Digital Enhanced Network)
Nextel's unique 2G mobile phone technology, which has no obvious upgrade path. Now that Nextel has merged with Sprint, iDEN will slowly be phased out in favor of CDMA.
IMEI International Mobile Equipment Identity
A 15-digit number (composed of four parts) that uniquely identifies an individual wireless phone or communicator. The IMEI appears on the label located on the back of the phone.The IMEI is automatically transmitted by the phone when the network asks for it. A network operator might request the IMEI to determine if a device is in disrepair, stolen or to gather statistics on fraud or faults.
Most phones have a very simple key-in method to retrieve IMEI/MEID numbers:
enter a 5-digit string--*#06# (Note
If a phone or other mobile device is stolen, carriers in some countries can blacklist the IMEI or MEID so that the thief cannot use the phone in any capacity (regardless of whether or not the SIM card has been replaced).
IMT-2000 (International Mobile Telecommunications-2000)
A family of standarsd for third generation (3G) wireless communications as defined by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Cellular standard know also as cdmaOne
ITU (International Telecommunications Union)
United Nations agency for information and communication technology issues
LTE, an abbreviation for Long-Term Evolution, commonly marketed as 4G LTE, is a standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals. It is based on the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA network technologies,
Mobile Equipment ID--a superset of IMEI
MIN (The Mobile Identification Number)
is a unique 24-bit number assigned by the wireless service provider to each phone it sells or includes in service plans. Unlike an Electronic Serial Number (ESN), a MIN is changeable because wireless phones may change hands or phone owners may move to another coverage region, requiring a different service plan. The MIN and ESN are both automatically transmitted to the wireless network each time the phone is used to verify that the phone has not been reported lost or stolen and that all subscriber bills are current. See also ESN.
MMS - Multimedia Messaging Service
MMS is a 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) Forum Standard that lets users of MMS supportive mobile phones send and receive messages with text, pictures, and sounds.
MTAs/RSAs Metropolitan Trading Areas (MTA)
are areas of economic integration defined by Rand McNally's Commercial Atlas. The FCC uses the 51 U.S. MTAs as the boundaries for PCS licenses. Each MTA consists of several Basic Trading Areas (BTAs) which are several contiguous counties. The FCC also identified 428 rural U.S. markets or Rural Service Areas. Two service providers are licensed for each RSA. See also FCC.
OFDMA - Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access
A broadband wireless air interface
It works by separating a single signal into subcarriers, or, in other words, by dividing one extremely fast signal into numerous slow signals that optimize mobile access, as the subchannels can then transmit data without being subject to the same intensity of multipath distortion faced by single carrier transmission.Long Term Evolution.
(LTE) is an OFDMA-based technology standardized in 3GPP Release 8 and Release 9.
PCS Personal Communications Service (or System).
Generally, a marketing term used to describe a wide variety of two-way digital wireless service offerings operating at 1900 MHz. PCS services include next generation wireless phone and communication services, wireless local loop, inexpensive walk-around communications service with lightweight, low-powered handsets, in-building cordless voice services for business, in-building wireless LAN service for business, enhanced paging service as well as wireless services integrated with wired networks. A Personal Communications System refers to the hardware and software that provide communications services.
PUK Personal Unblocking Key
R-UIM - Removable User Identity Module
A card used with CDMA phones in parts of Europe and Asia. It is similar to SIM and interchangeable with SIM (which allows GSM subsribers to roam on CDMA).
SAR - specific absorption rate
A measure of the rate of RF (radiofrequency) energy absorption by the body from the source being measured – in this case, a cell phone. The FCC sets maximum levels.
SIM - Subscriber Identity Module
A portable memory chip originally used in GSM cellular telephones, now in all 4G phones. The SIM card makes it easy to switch to a new phone by simply sliding the SIM out of the old phone and into the new one.The SIM holds personal identity information, cell phone number, phone book, text messages and other data. It automatically activates the phone into which it is inserted.
So, you can buy a new "compatible" (see unlocked below) phone and activate it by taking the SIM card from your old phone without paying your carrier to do it and possibly require you to sign up for a new 1-2 year contract. You can use pre-paid SIM with you and pop it into your phone in case there was ever a time when you wanted to have phone service but not be reachable by your usual number.
You can also get sim cards from kiosks at airports overseas which will allow you to use local networks without paying roaming charges.
See SIM card reader/writers.
Specalized Mobil Radio (800 and 900 MHz bands) - NEXTEL bought most.
SMS - Short Message Service
A text message service which enables users to send short messages (160 characters) to other users. A very popular service, particularly amongst young people, with 400 billion SMS messages sent worldwide in 2002. They can be sent from an e-mail system or web page to a phone or from phone to phone.
Short Message Peer to Peer Protocol
Time Division Multiple Access - Also known as D-AMPS, TDMA has data capabilities and moderate sound quality. It is offered in North America by Cantel AT&T. TDMA isnit considered a very robust technology compared to the digital alternatives. (IS-136 or Digital-AMPS or D-AMPS or NA-TDMA) Digital Cellular or PCS.
UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System)
3G successor to GSM which utilizes the W-CDMA air interface and GSM infrastructures.
Cdma2000 and UMTS were developed separately and are 2 separate ITU approved 3G standards.
The coverage will be provided by a combination of cell sizes ranging from 'in building' Pico Cells to Global Cells provided by satellite, giving service to the remote regions of the world. The UMTS is not a replacement of 2nd generation technologies (e.g. GSM, DCS1800, CDMA, DECT etc.), which will continue to evolve to their full potential.
Universal Mobile Telecommunications System
a third generation mobile cellular system for networks based on the GSM standard.
See above
- Wideband CDMA 3G Replacement for GSM. See above
- A standards-based technology enabling the delivery of last mile wireless broadband access as an alternative to cable and DSL. HTC and Sprint had a WiMAX enabled phone for a while, but it is no longer available.
WAP - Wireless Application Protocol
announced a software solution that the company said will enable manufacturers of mobile subscriber terminals to implement data applications and services based on the brand-new WAP 1.1 standard. The company expects the Nokia WAP Browser, which it will license to equipment vendors, to gain a good reception. That's because of the solution's ability to be ported and integrated into mobile phones, personal digital assistants and other wireless devices.

Google Maps for your phone (
Troubleshooting notes:
  • Check that battery is not loose.
  • Hold power on button for 5 sec.
  • Remove battery.
    On blacberry remove while unit is on and leave out for 60 sec. ("Blackberry Pull")
  • Press recessed reset button with a stulus.

Glossaries at: GSM World, PC Magazine, CNET

See also:
Mobil Phones in products
Mobile Phone service in services

What Is the Difference Between GSM and CDMA? - wiseGEEK
Review: Which 3G network is the best?
3G and UMTS Frequently Asked Questions
GSM World,
Mobil Telephone History,
CDMA vs GSM - Difference and Comparison | Diffen
3G at wikipedia
last updated 1 Jun 2009