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Cell Phone Glossary: What is GSM vs. EDGE vs. CDMA vs. TDMA?

This article details the differences between the major cell phone standards

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While selecting the right cell phone service plan at your carrier of choice is a supremely important decision, so is choosing the right cell phone service carrier in the first place.

This article will help you understand the characteristics between their underlying technologies and unravel the differences between the GSM, EDGE, CDMA and TDMA cell phone technology standards.

Understanding various cell phone acronyms doesn’t need to be complicated. This article makes it simple.

1. What is GSM?

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GSM reigns as the world’s most widely used cell phone technology. Cell phone carriers T-Mobile and AT&T use GSM for their networks.

2. What is EDGE?

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EDGE is faster than GSM and is built upon GSM.

3. What is CDMA?

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CDMA competes with GSM today. Sprint, Virgin Mobile and Verizon Wireless use the CDMA technology standard in the U.S.

4. What is TDMA?

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Image © Chad Baker, Getty Images
TDMA, which predates the more advanced GSM technology standard, has been incorporated into GSM. TDMA is no longer in use by the major U.S. cell phone service carriers.
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