Difference Between GSM and WCDMA


Main Difference

GSM (Global System for mobile) and WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) are two types of wireless technologies or radio system technologies. Most of the people are familiar with GSM but only few knows about WCDMA. The main difference between GSM and WCDMA is that GSM is a 2G technology while WCDMA is a 3G technology.

What is GSM?

GSM stands for Global System for Mobile that describes the protocol for 2G (2nd Generation) digital cellular networks used by mobile phones. It is the default global standard for mobile communications since 2014. At present 76% market share is owned by GSM and it is operating in over 219 countries across the world. 2G network replaced the 1G analog cellular networks, and after that GSM came into field that originally described a digital and circuit switched network that is optimized for full duplex voice telephony. GSM is wholly owned by the GSM Association and GSM is the trademark of the company.


What is WCDMA?

WCDMA stands for Wideband Code Division Multiple Access that describes the protocol for 3G digital cellular networks used by mobile phones. It is an air interface standard found in 3G mobile telecommunications networks. In addition to normal cellular services such as voice & audio calling, MMS and text service, it transfers the data at high speeds that results in delivering higher bandwidth applications including streaming and broadband internet access. It uses the same core network that is being used by 2G GSM networks being used globally, allowing dual mode mobile operating along with GSM/EDGE.

Key Differences

  1. GSM is being used worldwide while WCDMA is being in U.S only.
  2. GSM holds the 76% share of the market while WCDMA is in progressing phase.
  3. WCDMA is more advanced and contains more features as compare to GSM.
  4. WCDMA speed and performance is many time greater than GSM.
  5. GSM uses GPRS/E/4G/LTE technologies for data transfer. WCDMA uses DS-CDMA channel access method and the FDD duplexing method to achieve higher speed.
  6. GSM is a 2G technology while WCDMA is a 3G technology.
  7. Carrier size of WCDMA is of 5 MHz CDMA while of GSM it is 200 kHz TDMA.
  8. WCDMA is supported on downlink that made is favorable for transmit diversity. GSM is not supported for this.
Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss