Cell phone acronyms

Have you ever wondered what all those cell phone acronyms meant? I have too.

So here I will set them out for you, what they are and what they mean.

For networks (how the signal travels from phone to phone) there are pretty much only two choices:

CDMA stands for Code Division Multiple Access and is the network used by Verizon and Sprint/Nextel.

GSM stands for Global System for Mobile communications, and is the network used by T-Mobile and AT&T. Outside of the United States, GSM is the standard, but American GSM phones will not work with international (Asia/European) GSM networks due to incompatible radio frequencies.

EV-DO stands for Evolution-Data Optimized and is a 3G network. It is the way laptop and smart-phone users connect to the Internet at DSL speeds.

EDGE stands for Enhanced Data rate for GSM Evolution and is technically a 3G network, but because of slow network speeds (similar to low-end DSL) it is called “2.5G” or “2.75G.”

EVDO only works on CDMA networks and EDGE only works on GSM networks.

3G stands for “third generation network”, and is the way phone companies advertise the ability to quickly surf the Internet, download music and watch streaming movies or TV. Due to the cost of providing DSL-quality bandwidth to cell phones, most cell phone companies in America have not completed their 3G network.
Verizon tends to lead in network availability and ability to browse web pages quickly, with other CDMA carriers following. GSM phone companies (AT&T/T-Mobile) continue to lag with the expansion of their networks to 3G speeds (3G speeds are comparable to DSL).

“Smart”-phone is a term used to describe any cell phone or mobile device that uses an operating system like Windows or Palm (although there are others).

SIM cards are Subscriber Identity Module cards used in GSM phones (both American and International) that are a small physical card that contains all the users phone numbers and other information. The SIM card can be removed and placed in any other compatible GSM phone; thus making it easier to transfer handsets. (CDMA phones do not use SIM cards.)