CDMA SPECIAL - COST AND TECH ADVANTAGES BUT CAN IT BREAK INTO AFRICA'S GSM MARKETS?

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This week saw the close of the first CDMA technical trials in South Africa in which the benefits of CDMA2000 1x and CDMA2000 1xEV-DO were on display. The ‘CDMA Experience’, organised by Qualcomm and Ericsson and in association with MTN and Transtel, exhibited how 3G CDMA have the potential to bring cost-effective, high-quality voice communications and high-speed data connectivity to both the urban and rural populations of Africa. The trials highlighted the advantages and flexibility of the cellular technology by testing it in a diverse range of locations and over a variety of different applications from distance learning to telemedicine to remote monitoring. Attendees who came to inspect the technology on show included officials from ICASA, members from the soon-to-be-launched South African SNO, equipment manufacturers and representatives from numerous telecommunication operators and regulators from across the continent.

The challenge in Africa for CDMA advocates is that for mobiles GSM is the de-facto global standard, also dominant in the rest of the world. GSM is by far the most widespread cellular technology in Africa offering voice communication facilities to millions of people who are not able to receive a reliable landline service. Mapara Syed reports on the event from Johannesburg and what this innovative technology can bring to Africa.