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HSPA, UMTS, GSM, LTE and Other Acronyms Demystified


If you’re a consumer who wants to be informed before buying a new mobile device, you likely do a great deal of research before buying a smartphone. However, as you begin to research smartphone choices, you start to get inundated with acronyms such as LTE, HSPA, GSM®, EDGE®, and so on. Instead of just nodding along with the smartphone rep the way you do when your crazy uncle corners you at the family reunion, let’s demystify a few of these popular acronyms to ensure you make intelligent buying decisions:

CDMA: Code Division Multiple Access. CDMA is one of the 3G standards created by Qualcomm®. You can currently find CDMA networks in the U.S. Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, China, Taiwan, a handful of other countries. The standard for CDMA is Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) and it is a 3rd Generation (also known as “3G”) technology.

EDGE: Enhanced Data (rates for) GSM Evolution. EDGE is an upgrade to 2nd Generation (2G or 2.5G) GSM software upgrade allowing for data transfer and web browsing at near 3G speeds.

GSM: Global System for Mobile. GSM is an alternate to CDMA and comes in two standards: EDGE, which is a 2nd Generation (2G or 2.5G) and UMTS/HSDPA, which is a 3rd Generation (3G) technology. As the name implies, GSM is more of a global standard than CDMA and the 3G technology used by most carriers around the world.

HSPA: High Speed Packet Access. The HSPA family of technologies is quite large, covering High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), High Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA), and Evolved High Speed Packet Access (HSPA+). There are others, but these are the big ones. HSDPA is a 3rd Generation (3G) technology based on GSM standards offering faster data download speeds at the cost of upload speeds. I’ll bet you can guess what HSUPA is…yup, the exact opposite. Read on for HSPA+.

HSPA+: Evolved High Speed Packet Access. HSPA+ works like a turbo boost for UMTS/HSDPA devices that help them reach 4th Generation (4G) technology speeds. On your BlackBerry smartphone, this is denoted by an H+ symbol.

LTE™: Long-Term Evolution. Together with 802.16e mobile and High Capacity Spatial Division Multiple Access (HC-SDMA), LTE comprises the family of 4th Generation (4G) cellular wireless technologies. 4G networks claim a speed up to 1 Gigabyte per second (1Gbps) and are quickly gaining popularity. Full deployment in the U.S. by Verizon and AT&T® and in Canada are expected within the next couple of years.

UMTS®: Universal Mobile Telecommunications System. UMTS is a 3rd Generation (3G) GSM technology. As the name implies, it is a more universal (global) form of HSPDA or EDGE. However, changing over to UMTS from another technology requires new cellular base towers as opposed to technologies like EDGE, which do not.

These are some of the more common cellular technology acronyms you likely see on a regular basis. When choosing a BlackBerry smartphone that works with your carrier’s network, the general rule is that BlackBerry® Bold™ smartphones work with CDMA, GSM, HSPA+ and UMTS networks. BlackBerry® Curve™ and BlackBerry® Torch™ smartphones work with GSM and UMTS networks. However, be sure to verify any network with your carrier prior to purchase.

HSPA, UMTS, GSM, LTE and Other Acronyms Demystified
Donny H.
Tue, 21 Aug 2012 18:13:40 GMT

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