Tech speak is all around us. Every industry has its own language that helps insiders communicate effectively and efficiently. Unfortunately, the use and abuse of industry unique terms can be confusing when all you really want to do is to make a good decision when buying a product. Selecting a cell phone provider can be made easier by knowing just a bit of this jargon.
Here are a few of the most important and commonly used terms regarding mobile devices. To understand how they work together, please take look at our "Making Sense of Mobile Acronyms" articles.
3G (3rd Generation)
Among the most widely used terms in the mobile market today, 3G refers to the 3rd generation of mobile phone technology. It s important because it provides data transfer speeds that are much faster than had previously been possible. You can expect data transfer from about 144Kbps to, optimistically, 2.4Mbps. This is what makes web surfing much faster and allows for streaming video and on-demand programming.
CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access)
CDMA refers to several second and third generation wireless protocols that allow for numerous signals to use the same channel. In North America, CDMA is used by about half of all wireless phone users with the other half using GSM. CDMA generally provides faster data transfer than GSM but is not used in most countries outside of North America.
EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution)
EDGE is the step following GPRS in the evolution of data transfer using GSM. It can deliver data rates up to 384Kbps. EDGE combined with GSM is 2.75G technology.
EVDO (Evolution Data Only)
EVDO is the broadband data transfer protocol that accompanies CDMA. It typically delivers data transfer rates between 300Kbps and 600Kbps but can reach peaks up to 2.4Mbps. It is 3G technology.
EVDO Rev A (EVDO Revision A)
EVDO is the next evolutionary step in broadband data transfer associated with CDMA mobile phone networks. It provides download speeds peaking at 3.1Mbps and is considered 3.5G technology.
GPRS (General Packet Radio Service)
GPRS is the initial data transfer system associated with GSM wireless phones. In theory it provides data transfer of about 50Kbps but realistically provides much less. In association with GSM it is 2.5G technology.
GPS (Global Positioning System)
GPS can determine a user s location based on signals received from geosynchronous satellites. There are 24 satellites in the system and at least four of them are above the horizon at any location on the globe. The receiver calculates the time to receive a radio signal from them to triangulate its location.
GSM (Global Standard for Mobile Communications)
GSM is the wireless protocol that is most commonly used worldwide. It is the system used by about half of all wireless phone users in North America, but elsewhere, with the exception of Japan, India, and Korea, it is the only game in town.
HSDPA (High-Speed Data Packet Access)
HSDPA is the follow-on technology to UMTS. It can achieve data transfer rates up to 7.2Mbps and is anticipated to be able to reach 14.4Mbps in the near future.
UMTS (Universal Mobile Telephone Service)
UMTS is a 3G data transfer protocol for GSM. It offers typical data transfer speeds of between 300Kbps and 400Kbps but can achieve peaks of about 2Mbps.
WiFi (Wireless Fidelity)
WiFi is a commonly used wireless local area network that allows users within a short range to connect to broadband connectivity. WiFi connects the mobile device through a wireless router to a hard-wired DSL or cable internet connection.