A military technology

CDMA is a military technology first used during World War II by English allies to foil German attempts at jamming transmissions. The allies decided to transmit over several frequencies, instead of one, making it difficult for the Germans to pick up the complete signal. Because Qualcomm created communications chips for CDMA technology, it was privy to the classified information. Once the information became public, Qualcomm claimed patents on the technology and became the first to commercialize it.

Code Division Multiple Access technology emerged as an alternative to the GSM cellular architecture and has shared in the past decade’s explosive growth in the wireless market. CDMA, like GSM, has seen incremental improvements in capacity throughout this period. Now both types of networks are making a transition to third-generation (3G) systems around the globe, offering yet more capacity and data services.


With the advent of wireless communication there was the advent of the two technologies for the cellular communication. They were the CDMA and the GSM technology. Both the technologies have their own mechanisms of working and their own pros and cons for which they have their own different utilizations and implications.

        The technology on which our group has proposed to research is the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technology. Though the total users of the CDMA technology around the globe are approximately 14% yet it has many advantages over the GSM technology which has enormous number of users. Actually the GSM technology is easy to manage and to handle rather than CDMA but that doesn’t mean that it has got no future. Truly speaking the CDMA technology is the technology of the future. Gradually it’s gaining popularity in the European market.

What is CDMA?

CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access) refers to any of several protocols used in so-called second-generation (2G) and third-generation (3G) wireless communications. As the term implies, CDMA is a form of multiplexing, which allows numerous signals to occupy a single transmission channel, optimizing the use of available bandwidth. The technology is used in ultra-high-frequency (UHF) cellular telephone systems in the 800-MHz and 1.9-GHz bands.

CDMA employs analog-to-digital conversion (ADC) in combination with spread spectrum technology. Audio input is first digitized into binary elements. The frequency of the transmitted signal is then made to vary according to a defined pattern (code), so it can be intercepted only by a receiver whose frequency response is programmed with the same code, so it follows exactly along with the transmitter frequency. There are trillions of possible frequency-sequencing codes, which enhance privacy and makes cloning difficult.

The CDMA channel is nominally 1.23 MHz wide. CDMA networks use a scheme called soft handoff, which minimizes signal breakup as a handset passes from one cell to another. The combination of digital and spread-spectrum modes supports several times as many signals per unit bandwidth as analog modes. CDMA is compatible with other cellular technologies; this allows for nationwide roaming.

The original CDMA standard, also known as CDMA One and still common in cellular telephones in the U.S., offers a transmission speed of only up to 14.4 Kbps in its single channel form and up to 115 Kbps in an eight-channel form. CDMA2000 and wideband CDMA deliver data many times faster.

Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) is a digital air interface standard, claiming eight to fifteen times the capacity of traditional analog cellular systems. It employs a commercial adaptation of a military spread-spectrum technology. Based on spread spectrum theory, it gives essentially the same services and qualities as wireline service. The primary difference is that access to the local exchange carrier (LEC) is provided via a wireless phone.

Though CDMA’s application in cellular telephony is relatively new, it is not a new technology. CDMA has been used in many military applications, such as:

  • Anti-jamming (because of the spread signal, it is difficult to jam or interfere with a CDMA signal).
  • Ranging (measuring the distance of the transmission to know when it will be received).
  • Secure communications (the spread spectrum signal is very hard to detect).

CDMA is a spread spectrum technology, which means that it spreads the information contained in a particular signal of interest over a much greater bandwidth than the original signal. With CDMA, unique digital codes, rather than separate RF frequencies or channels, are used to differentiate subscribers. The codes are shared by both the mobile station (cellular phone) and the base station, and are called pseudo-random code sequences. Since each user is separated by a unique code, all users can share the same frequency band (range of radio spectrum). This gives many unique advantages to the CDMA technique over other RF techniques in cellular communication.

CDMA is a digital multiple access technique and this cellular aspect of the protocol is specified by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) as IS-95. In CDMA, the BSSAP is divided into the DTAP and BSMAP (which corresponds to BSSMAP in GSM).

Generating a CDMA signal

There are five steps in generating a CDMA signal.

  1. analog to digital conversion
  2. vocoding
  3. encoding and interleaving
  4. channelizing the signals
  5. conversion of the digital signal to a Radio Frequency (RF) signal

The use of codes is a key part of this process.

How CDMA is altering the face of cellular and PCS communication?

CDMA is altering the face of cellular and PCS communication by:

  • Dramatically improving the telephone traffic capacity
  • Dramatically improving the voice quality and eliminating the audible effects of multipath fading
  • Reducing the incidence of dropped calls due to handoff failures
  • Providing reliable transport mechanism for data communications, such as facsimile and internet traffic
  • Reducing the number of sites needed to support any given amount of traffic
  • Simplifying site selection
  • Reducing deployment and operating costs because fewer cell sites are needed
  • Reducing average transmitted power
  • Reducing interference to other electronic devices
  • Reducing potential health risks

Commercially introduced in 1995, CDMA quickly became one of the world’s fastest-growing wireless technologies. In 1999, the International Telecommunications Union selected CDMA as the industry standard for new “third-generation” (3G) wireless systems. Many leading wireless carriers are now building or upgrading to 3G CDMA networks in order to provide more capacity for voice traffic, along with high-speed data capabilities.

CDMA is a form of Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum communications. In general, Spread Spectrum communications is distinguished by three key elements:

  1. The signal occupies a bandwidth much greater than that which is necessary to send the information. This results in many benefits, such as immunity to interference and jamming and multi-user access, which we’ll discuss later on.
  2. The bandwidth is spread by means of a code which is independent of the data. The independence of the code distinguishes this from standard modulation schemes in which the data modulation will always spread the spectrum somewhat.
  3. The receiver synchronizes to the code to recover the data. The use of an independent code and synchronous reception allows multiple users to access the same frequency band at the same time.

In order to protect the signal, the code used is pseudo-random. It appears random, but is actually deterministic, so that the receiver can reconstruct the code for synchronous detection. This pseudo-random code is also called pseudo-noise (PN).

There are three ways to spread the bandwidth of the signal:

  • Frequency hopping. The signal is rapidly switched between different frequencies within the hopping bandwidth pseudo-randomly, and the receiver knows before hand where to find the signal at any given time.
  • Time hopping. The signal is transmitted in short bursts pseudo-randomly, and the receiver knows beforehand when to expect the burst.
  • Direct sequence. The digital data is directly coded at a much higher frequency. The code is generated pseudo-randomly, the receiver knows how to generate the same code, and correlates the received signal with that code to extract the data.


Spread Spectrum uses wide band, noise-like signals. Because Spread Spectrum signals are noise-like, they are hard to detect. Spread Spectrum signals are also hard to Intercept or demodulate. Further, Spread Spectrum signals are harder to jam (interfere with) than narrowband signals. These Low Probability of Intercept (LPI) and anti-jam (AJ) features are why the military has used Spread Spectrum for so many years. Spread signals are intentionally made to be much wider band than the information they are carrying to make them more noise-like.

Spread Spectrum signals use fast codes that run many times the information bandwidth or data rate. These special “Spreading” codes are called “Pseudo Random” or “Pseudo Noise” codes. They are called “Pseudo” because they are not real ‘Gaussian noise’.

Spread Spectrum transmitters uses similar transmit power levels to narrow band transmitters. Because Spread Spectrum signals are so wide, they transmit at a much lower spectral power density, measured in Watts per Hertz, than narrowband transmitters. This lower transmitted power density characteristic gives spread signals a big plus. Spread and narrow band signals can occupy the same band, with little or no interference. This capability is the main reason for all the interest in Spread Spectrum today.


Now a day, in large organization the communication process has to be fast and efficient. There are the major points that have to be taken care in the modern corporate culture. Over time, more and more demands have been made on the capabilities of corporate networks. Workers want more mobility; secure, high-speed access; and an extension of applications across the enterprise, all of which can strain current IT capabilities. The first and foremost of all is protecting corporate network assets is an ongoing task for IT professionals. Increased worker mobility and mobile workers’ needs for immediate, secure access to critical business information add challenges to maintaining network security

Some of today’s top security issues and concerns are:

  1. Unauthorized systems and network access
  2. Auditability and compliance
  3. Customer data breaches
  4. Internal and external sabotage
  5. Theft of intellectual property and confidential business information
  6. Cost of mobile device administration

The following diagram illustrates many elements critical to mobile data security.


In cellular service there are two main competing network technologies: Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). Cellular carriers including Sprint PCS, Cingular Wireless, Verizon and T-Mobile use one or the other. Understanding the difference between GSM and CDMA will allow you to choose a carrier that uses the preferable network technology for your needs.

The GSM Association is an international organization founded in 1987, dedicated to providing, developing, and overseeing the worldwide wireless standard of GSM. CDMA, a proprietary standard designed by Qualcomm in the United States, has been the dominant network standard for North America and parts of Asia. However, GSM networks continue to make inroads in the United States, as CDMA networks make progress in other parts of the world. There are camps on both sides that firmly believe either GSM or CDMA architecture is superior to the other. That said, to the non-invested consumer who simply wants bottom line information to make a choice, the following considerations may be helpful.


The most important factor is getting service in the areas you will be using your phone. Upon viewing competitors’ coverage maps you may discover that only GSM or CDMA carriers offer cellular service in your area. If so, there is no decision to be made, but most people will find that they do have a choice.

Data Transfer Speed

With the advent of cellular phones doing double and triple duty as streaming video devices, podcast receivers and email devices, speed is important to those who use the phone for more than making calls. CDMA has been traditionally faster than GSM, though both technologies continue to rapidly leapfrog along this path. Both boast “3G” standards, or 3rd generation technologies.

EVDO, also known as CDMA2000, is CDMA’s answer to the need for speed with a downstream rate of about 2 megabits per second, though some reports suggest real world speeds are closer to 300-700 kilobits per second (kbps). This is comparable to basic DSL. As of fall 2005, EVDO is in the process of being deployed. It is not available everywhere and requires a phone that is CDMA2000 ready.

GSM’s answer is EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), which boasts data rates of up to 384 kbps with real world speeds reported closer to 70-140 kbps. With added technologies still in the works that include UMTS (Universal Mobile Telephone Standard) and HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access), speeds reportedly increase to about 275—380 kbps. This technology is also known as W-CDMA, but is incompatible with CDMA networks. An EDGE-ready phone is required.

In the case of EVDO, theoretical high traffic can degrade speed and performance, while the EDGE network is more susceptible to interference. Both require being within close range of a cell to get the best speeds, while performance decreases with distance.

Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards

In the United States only GSM phones use SIM cards. The removable SIM card allows phones to be instantly activated, interchanged, swapped out and upgraded, all without carrier intervention. The SIM itself is tied to the network, rather than the actual phone. Phones that are card-enabled can be used with any GSM carrier.

The CDMA equivalent, a R-UIM card, is only available in parts of Asia but remains on the horizon for the U.S. market. CDMA carriers in the U.S. require proprietary handsets that are linked to one carrier only and are not card-enabled. To upgrade a CDMA phone, the carrier must deactivate the old phone then activate the new one. The old phone becomes useless.


For the most part, both networks have fairly concentrated coverage in major cities and along major highways. GSM carriers, however, have roaming contracts with other GSM carriers, allowing wider coverage of more rural areas, generally speaking, often without roaming charges to the customer. CDMA networks may not cover rural areas as well as GSM carriers, and though they may contract with GSM cells for roaming in more rural areas, the charge to the customer will generally be significantly higher.

International Roaming

If you need to make calls to other countries, a GSM carrier can offer international roaming, as GSM networks dominate the world market. If you travel to other countries you can even use your GSM cell phone abroad, providing it is a quad-band phone (850/900/1800/1900 MHz). By purchasing a SIM card with minutes and a local number in the country you are visiting, you can make calls against the card to save yourself international roaming charges from your carrier back home. CDMA phones that are not card-enabled do not have this capability, however there are several countries that use CDMA networks. Check with your CDMA provider for your specific requirements.

According CDG.org, CDMA networks support over 270 million subscribers worldwide, while GSM.org tallies up their score at over 1 billion. As CDMA phones become R-UIM enabled and roaming contracts between networks improve, integration of the standards might eventually make differences all but transparent to the consumer.

The chief GSM carriers in the United States are Cingular Wireless, recently merged with AT&T Wireless, and T-Mobile USA. Major CDMA carriers are Sprint PCS, Verizon and Virgin Mobile. There are also several smaller cellular companies on both networks.