General Tech Q & A Tech Tips

The Difference between GSM and WCDMA

WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiplexing Access) and GSM are two technologies that are used in mobile telecommunications. The difference between these two is that GSM is a 2G technology and WCDMA is a part of the newer 3G group of technologies.


Being newer and more advanced, WCDMA is now the technology that people want and it is slowly being deployed in a lot of areas that are already being occupied by GSM. Sooner or later, the WCDMA network would equal the coverage of GSM, making the GSM network redundant. With this said, it is clear that the GSM network is slowly being phased out and replaced with the newer and better WCDMA. But for now, GSM is still the most widespread technology that is used in the whole world. Surpassing all other 2G and 3G alternatives.

Main Difference between GSM and WCDMA:

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.


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.


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.

Differences Between GSM and WCDMA:

Following are the key differences between GSM and WCDMA.

  • GSM is being used worldwide while WCDMA is being in U.S only.
  • GSM holds the 76% share of the market while WCDMA is in progressing phase.
  • WCDMA is more advanced and contains more features as compare to GSM.
  • WCDMA speed and performance is many time greater than GSM.
  • 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.
  • GSM is a 2G technology while WCDMA is a 3G technology.
  • Carrier size of WCDMA is of 5 MHz CDMA while of GSM it is 200 kHz TDMA.
  • WCDMA is supported on downlink that made is favorable for transmit diversity. GSM is not supported for this.
  • WCDMA is a 3G technology while GSM is a 2G technology
  • GSM is slowly being phased out in favor of CDMA
  • GSM is still more widespread than CDMA
  • WCDMA and GSM uses different frequency bands
  • WCDMA offers much faster data speeds than GSM
  • WCDMA would soon replace GSM


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