Friday, February 26, 2010

Picking the Best Mobile Wireless Technology

Best Cell Phones Part 2

Yesterday we reviewed the backhaul technologies in use by wireless operators for cellphone use in the US. Which technology should we pick to be able to use the best cell phones?
image by Paul Keller

TDMA is now practically obsoleted in the US, and Nextel has also announced that it will eventually switch to CDMA, the technology of its holding company, Sprint. For this reason, very few new cell phones come out for TDMA or iDEN, and the choice of handsets is quite limited. As a result, TDMA and iDEN has not good choices when looking to buy the best cell phone.

CDMA has a strong footprint in the US, thanks to Verizon, Sprint and US Cellular. It boasts of the best coverage and highest customer satisfaction (albeit highest prices...) thanks to Verizon. Unfortunately, its presence around the world is much less significant, and its addressable population is low compared to GSM/UMTS. Consequently, cell phone manufacturers do not target CDMA in a first introduction, and often never come out with a CDMA version of their devices.

This leaves us with GSM. GSM/UMTS is present in the world around, and has the largest addressable customer market, based on network footprint. For cell phone manufacturers, it is the #1 target and guarantees the largest volume. As a consequence, it is the technology of choice when you want to have the widest selection of cell phones, and get a chance to pick the best cell phone. In fact, when we research actual models, we do find all of the best phones on GSM. We rarely find them on other technologies. Unequivocally, GSM/UMTS is the best technology to optimize phone choice, and, really, the only one to pick in large parts of the world, such as Europe.

Does it mean that we should all choose GSM as a carrier technology? Our next page will look at reasons why we might want to choose others.

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