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CDMA going way of the dodo?

by Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca

Ericsson Canada president Mark Henderson dropped some interesting stats during his keynote address at the Canadian Telecom Summit today. Henderson said Code Division Multiple Access cellphone technology – the likes of which is used by Bell Canada and Telus in Canada – is on the verge of extinction.

Currently, about 80 per cent of cellphone companies in the world, including Rogers in Canada, use the rival Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) technology. Henderson said that GSM, and the Long-Term Evolution standard that is slowly succeeding it, will expand to 96 per cent of carriers by 2012 as CDMA carriers convert, and as new networks crop up.

Granted, Ericsson is a major purveyor of Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network equipment, so that view may be a bit skewed, but that doesn't mean it's not going to happen. Canada is likely to have a number of new cellphone carriers starting next year – Shaw, Quebecor, Bragg and Globalive all look like they're going to be significant players, if the government's spectrum auction is any indication. The smart money is on all of them going with GSM/LTE. Rumours of Canada's CDMA carriers converting to GSM also continue to swirl, fuelled by reports last week that Telus is looking into LTE.

In fact, some folks here at the summit are wondering if the lack of presence from Bell and Telus has something to do with this CDMA-GSM situation. Aside from having a few token representatives in some of the panel sessions, the country's two largest phone companies are noticeably absent from speaking engagements at the summit.

Rogers, of course, is well represented. Chief operating officer Nadir Mohamed extolled the virtues of the company's GSM network in his speech this morning and couldn't resist taking a cheap shot at his CDMA rivals: "By the way, our services work wherever you might be in the world."

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