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From 3G to WiMAX: A “Handy” Glossary
3G A term referring to the “3rd generation” of digital wireless phones. An updated GSM system that allows high-speed data transfers as well as voice communications. The US firm Qualcomm and the Swedish Ericsson began a long legal squabble over 3G technical standards and alleged patent infringements in 1996. The term 2.5G is used for partial or intermediary implementations of 3G. See GSM and UMTS.
3GPP 3rd Generation Partnership Project, a collaboration between groups of telecommunications associations that sets 3G mobile phone system specifications, including HSPA and LTE (see below).
4G The generation after 3G. Technically, the term 4G refers to the IMT Advanced (International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced) standard, as defined by the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R). A 4G cellular system has peak data rates of up to about 100 Mbit/s for high mobility (mobile access), and up to approximately 1 Gbit/s for low mobility (local wireless access). Flexible channel bandwidth (between 5 and 20 MHz and up to 40 MHz) is also part of the 4G standard. Some true 4G cellular networks went into service in Stockholm and Oslo in December 2009. Sprint began advertising 4G service in selected US cities, despite maximum download speeds (10Mbit/s) that were not true 4G. Also see LTE below.
Akku German for rechargeable battery (accumulator)
Bluetooth A proprietary open wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances (using short wavelength radio transmissions) from fixed and mobile devices. Bluetooth is managed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group.
CDMA Code Division Multiple Access - A digital cellular standard used primarily in North America and parts of Asia. CDMA is a digital technology developed and supported by the US company Qualcomm. The new iPhone 4S has both CDMA and GSM technology, making it a world phone. Also see GSM and TDMA.
C-Netz an older German analog mobile phone network now limited almost exclusively to car phones. This system was retired at the end of 2000.
D-Netz Digital network used by the two competing companies T-Mobile (Deutsche Telekom, D1-Netz) and Vodafone (D2-Netz) in Germany.
dual-band / tri-band phones To cope with various systems operating at different frequencies (or even analog vs. digital systems), phone makers have developed dual-band or multi-band phones that can automatically switch among the various bands or systems.
EDGE Enhanced Data rates for Global Evolution (or GSM Evolution) - A 2.5G high-speed digital data service provided by cellular carriers worldwide that use the GSM technology, including AT&T and T-Mobile in the US. Also called Enhanced GPRS (EGPRS), EDGE works on EDGE cell phones as well as laptops and portable devices that have EDGE modems. EDGE is not as fast as the newer UMTS/3G (see below).
E-Netz A German digital mobile phone network started in 1994. This high density system allows cell phones to function at a low wattage of from .25 to one watt of power. The first provider to use the E-Netz was E-Plus.
frequency For cellular use, usually measured in megahertz (MHz). Often a single system (GSM, PCS, etc.) may operate at different frequencies. Germany's D-Netz (D1 and D2) is in the 900 MHz band, while the E-Netz operates at 1800 MHz. In North America there are PCS networks operating at 800 MHz and 1900 MHz. See “dual-band phones.” Note: the term "hertz" (cycles per second) is named for German scientist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz (1857-1894).
GPRS General Packet Radio Service - The first high-speed digital data service provided by cellular carriers that used the GSM technology. GPRS added a packet-switched channel to GSM, which uses dedicated, circuit-switched channels for voice conversations. It was replaced by EDGE, and improved version of the technology. UMTS is the 3G and fastest high-speed data service.
GSM Global System for Mobile communications, a digital cellular system found in almost all of Europe, parts of Asia, and parts of North America. GSM is a system developed by the Swedish firm Ericsson, one of the world’s largest makers of wireless phones. AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM in North America (but on different frequencies than European GSM). The new iPhone 4S has both CDMA and GSM technology, making it a world phone. Also see CDMA and TDMA
das Handy German for a mobile phone or cell phone. The plural is die Handys.
HSPA - HSPA+ High-Speed Packet Access and Evolved High-Speed Packet Access. HSPA+ provides download data rates of up to 84 Megabits per second (Mbit/s). It succeeded UMTS.
IMEI The International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) is a number assigned to each and every GSM mobile phone in order to electronically identify that particular device. On the iPhone it can be found under Settings > General > About. On some phones it can also be displayed on the screen of the phone by entering *#06# on the keypad. The IMEI number is required in order to unlock or activate a smart phone. The IMEI is only for the device; the subscriber is identified by a so-called IMSI number (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) stored on the SIM card. In the UK and some other countries, the IMEI is also used by the police to deactivate a stolen mobile phone. The CDMA Mobile Equipment Identifier (MEID) is basically the same as the IMEI.
Iridium A world-wide satellite telephone system that uses low-orbit satellites to provide universal global communications coverage. Iridium's original high cost and poor service almost led to the company's collapse in 1999. A reorganized Iridium now offers very competitive rates and smaller phones. Other satellite phone services include Globalstar and ICO/Ellipse.
LTE Long Term Evolution, a technology developed by the 3GPP intended to offer higher speeds than 3G. Although LTE is often marketed as “4G,” it is not truly 4G, as defined by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). LTE is supposed to offer mobile download speeds of up to 100 Mbps. Pre-4G technologies such as mobile WiMAX and first-release 3G LTE have been on the market since 2006 and 2009 (LTE). Also see 4G above.
Mbps - Mbit/s Megabits per second. A common measurement of data transfer speed.
MHz Megahertz, 1 million cycles per second (Also see "frequency")
MIMO Multiple-input and multiple-output. MIMO (pronounced my-moh or me-moh) is a type of smart antenna technology with multiple antennas for both the transmitter and receiver in a device. MIMO is an important part of modern wireless communication standards such as WiFi, 4G, LTE, WiMAX and HSPA+.
PCS / PDC Personal Communications Service - A digital mobile phone system begun in the US in 1996 and increasingly used in North America and Europe. Most PCS networks (similar to GSM) use radio spectrum in the 1.8-2GHz range.
satellite mobile phones Several worldwide satellite telephone systems use low-orbiting or geostationary satellites to provide global or partial global coverage in places that have no other wireless phone service (60 percent of the globe). These sat phone services include Iridium, Globalstar and ICO/Ellipse.
SIM Subscriber Identity Module - A smart-card technology used exclusively with GSM-based networks. Using an interchangeable postage-stamp size chip card, a GSM phone can be programmed to work with more than one phone number and more than one operator. (The iPhone uses a mini-SIM card that is even smaller than a regular SIM card.) Using a pre-paid German SIM card (with an unlocked phone) can save you lots of money compared to roaming while traveling in Germany.
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TDMA Time Division Multiple Access - One of two digital cellular standards once used primarily in North America. Today TDMA has given way to more advanced versions of CDMA and GSM. (Later versions of GSM actually use a form of TDMA technology.) Also see GSM and CDMA
UMTS United Mobile Telecommunication System - A broadband cell phone system that went into service in 2002. It was designed to allow much faster data transmission speeds than previous digital wireless services. UMTS is the GSM implementation of the 3G wireless phone system and provides service in the 2GHz band. It is being succeeded by the faster HSPA+ technology. Also see 3G HSPA+ and GSM.
WAP Wireless Access Protocol is a technology that allows cell phones to display specially formatted Web sites on a small screen. WAP was slow to catch on because it was slow and very limited graphically. For these reasons only some Web sites are available in WAP format. New smartphones, the iPad and the iPhone probably spell the end of WAP.
WEP Wired Equivalent Privacy is a 128-bit or 40-bit encription code for network security.
Wi-Fi A trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance, a trade association that promotes Wireless LAN (W-LAN, a wireless local network). In German, the term W-LAN or Wlan is used for Wi-Fi. The current Wi-Fi certified standards include 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n draft 2.0. In October 2010, the Alliance launched a new spec called Wi-Fi Direct that allows Wi-Fi-enabled devices to communicate directly with each other.
WiMAX Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access. WiMAX is a telecommunications protocol that provides fixed and mobile Internet access. The current WiMAX revision provides up to 40 Mbit/s data speeds. The IEEE 802.16m update may offer up to 1 Gbit/s fixed speeds. WiMAX is similar to Wi-Fi, but has been dubbed by some as “Wi-Fi on steroids.” The WiMAX standard is supervised by the WiMAX Forum.
WPA Wi-Fi Protected Access is a common type of passsword security for a home or business wireless network (LAN). It was succeeded by the more secure WPA2 standard.
Copyright © 1999-2012 Hyde Flippo
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