CDMA – Making a European Invasion?

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If you are older, you may remember the VHS versus Beta era; two formats of recording tape which required two different types of VCR players. If you are younger, you may not even know what any of those words mean (they were big boxy tapes that we used to watch and record movies and such before DVDs).  I was alive back then and I remember the day I finally threw away a whole box of Beta format movies because you couldn’t get players for them anymore.

Well, as the video world was divided by VHS and Beta back then, the mobile world is divided by GSM and CDMA. GSM is what we use in Europe; CDMA is more of a North America thing. While CDMA still exists in certain places like the US and Portugal, you just don’t find it in Europe. But apparently, someone is trying to bring it here.

The conversation around CDMA is based specifically on the frequency it uses on the radio spectrum – 450 MHz. This is an under-used frequency which could be exploited to help alleviate some of the data capacity problems we are all poised to face. According to Harbir Singh Nat, an executive with Portugal’s fourth largest mobile operator Zapp, CDMA 450 MHz could be used to service M2M (machine-to-machine) communications. However, Emeka Obiodu, a mobile analyst at Ovum, doesn’t see it happening. According to him, the next gen mobile technology in Europe will be LTE, or Long Term Evolution – which could also take advantage of the under-used 450 MHz bandwidth.

“I do not see a long term future for CDMA in Europe,” Mr Obiodu says. Mr Nat thinks otherwise.