Giovanni Funes Tech Brief

Cellular Technologies


Cellular technologies have come a long way since the old analog signals we began using in the 1980s. Many forms of new cellular technologies have been developed apart from the old analog signals that used to be common. These technologies include the CDMA and GSM technology. CDMA and GSM technologies are now the predominant digital technologies used by U.S competitive phone companies. Cell phones have also gone through many generations of wireless technologies from 2G up to LTE. Top cell phone companies use these digital and wireless technologies to provide their customers access to their digital wireless networks. These companies tend to focus on providing their customers access to either the CDMA or GSM networks. Some companies even offer their services as an add on to their internet package as a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) service. Consequently, due to the rise of the cell phone, the landline has seen its market share captured by cell phones. Thus, mobile service providers now require their own market share analysis.

Types of Cellular Technologies

Cellular technologies have been created with drastic improvements compared to the analog signals that we began using in the 1980s. Analog signals acted similarly to radio signals that one would expect to get in their car radio. These analog signals were only capable of traveling short, so carriers at the time would enable a feature that allowed people to use the same frequency in a specific geographical area. Around the 1990s, new wireless licenses were auctioned off allowing newly licensed carriers to create their systems using the digital technology. The new digital technology brought a whole array of advantages over the old analog technology that was being used. The technologies include but are not limited to secure phone calls, caller ID, texting, less static, longer battery life, and the list goes on.

The two major radio systems used in cell phones today include CDMA and GSM. CDMA and GSM are acronyms for Code Division Multiple Acces, and Global System for Mobiles. Call quality on both technologies is largely up to the carrier but there are some clear distinctions between the two. On GSM networks, customers will find it easier to switch from one mobile device to another. That is thanks to the fact that GSM networks use what is known as a 'Sim Card'. This sim card carries customer information for the GSM carriers and is easily removable and can be placed into another GSM compatible phone allowing endless phone options for consumers. When using CDMA that is not possible. According to PCMag ‘CDMA carriers use network-based white lists to verify their subscribers. That means you can only switch phones with your carrier's permnission, and a (Segan,"CDMA vs. GSM: What's the difference?") Some CDMA phones may have a sim card, but they are not used to carry customer information, instead they allow CDMA networks to access the LTE signals.

Both CDMA and GSM are what are known as 'multiple access' technologies. They allow the user to cram various phone calls and internet connections at once into one radio channel. GSM uses a time division system, while CDMA uses a code division system. In the time division calls take turns being converted into digital data. The code division system encrypts each call's data with a key and all the calls are transmitted at the same time. GSM has become the faster variant, but CDMA is just as good paired with 4G LTE.

These technologies are usually accompanied by the 'G's' of wireless technologies. At the time, there are 2G, 3G , 4G, 4G LTE, and 5G wireless technologies. The G in the name stands for the 'Generation' of wireless technology. As the generations increase so does the speed of the technology. Each generation up also is meant to be more secure, as well as more reliable. 2G and 1G were a great step up from the analog signals that came before them. When 3G was first released it was hailed as the fastest at the time offering transfer rates of at least 200 kbps. 3G became a standard for some time until the release of 4G. True 4G connections offer a minimum of one Gigabit per second. However , 4G LTE, which has practically become the standard today, comes very close to reaching true 4G. Speculation has risen of the possibility of 5G being tested for later implementation. 5G would be able to handle speeds from 1-10Gps. If the claims are true, then one can expect for this new generation of wireless technology to not be that far off.

Top Mobile Service Providers

There are many mobile service providers available for a consumer to purchase a mobile device and plan, but only a handful really dominate the market. These mobile service providers have been around for quite some time and made a great name of themselves. Sprint and Verizon are two of the major service providers in the U.S. They provide their customers with access to their CDMA networks. T-Mobile and AT&T are the other two well-known companies that provide their customers with access to GSM networks.

Sprint and Verizon are the well-known CDMA network providers in the United States. Verizon is able to offer its customers a large network. Their network has one of the top 4G performances. They also offer a great amount of individual plans for consumers. Verizon also performed considerably well in the customer support area. Verizon does have a few drawbacks as well. They tend to charge access fees on all their plans and since it is a CDMA network customers are restricted on which unlocked phones they can bring to the carrier. Verizon is ranked in 2nd place compared to T-Mobile,AT&T, and Sprint. Sprint placed in fourth according to Tom's Guide reviews. They are able to offer their customers a great customer service and carry great low cost plans for individuals. However, their network is sub-par compared to the other three major carriers. The fact that Sprint is also a CDMA network leaves it with the same disadvantage as Verizon, restrictions on which unlocked phone a customer is able to bring and use with the carrier.

T-Mobile and AT&T are by far the best-known GSM network providers in the U.S. One can always be subjected to an ad for these companies whether it be on the radio, billboard, or television. T-Mobile placed in 1st place among the top four major carriers. The company offers great deals on unlimited data plans making them very appealing to families. While T-Mobile didn't come in first in terms of network performance it did come in a close second. Making it a superior choice compared to Verizon thanks to its great customer service and price. AT&T placed in 3rd right after T-Mobile. They offer their customers a wide variety of phones to choose from, wonderful customer service, and have a good network. AT&T does not seem to offer appealing family plans however compared to T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint.

There are also a few VOIP subscriptions available for people to use. Voice Over Internet Protocol is a phone service offered over the internet. Customers who have good quality internet are able to get phone service through the already established internet connection rather than from a telephone company. VOIP can be used in conjunction with an established phone service or on their own due to their lower rates. There are some downsides to VOIP services. Most VOIP services do not allow calls to 911. Some business applications for VOIP include setting the service up as an outbound or inbound call center due to the low costs and simplicity. There are a wide range of VOIP providers including the well-known Skype and Google Hangouts. A close look into the Cellular Technology market demonstrates just how it dominates.

Cell Phone vs Landline Market Share

Landline numbers have dwindled drastically in the last few years. A decade ago most houses (at least nine in ten of them according to statista) contained dedicated landline phones, compared to a measly two in ten houses today. The CDC began tracking phone ownership in the United States back in 2004. The graph Statista provided from the CDC data demonstrates a large decline in landline ownership as cell phone use continues to rise. This continuing decline in landline ownership will lead to most of the United States' households being landline-less in the next few years. As of 2014 the CDC data reveals that at the time landlines and cellphones are found in about at least half of the households in the United States. With Cell phones now seemingly dominating the market, a better look at the top mobile service providers market share is necessary. Fiercewireless conducted an analysis of these top mobile service providers in the United States. In terms of subscribers Verizon is on top with around 142 million subscribers, AT&T has 131 million, T-Mobile 67 Million, and Sprint follows with 58 million. In terms of added subscribers T-Mobile is on top having added 1.881 million with Verizon only adding 1.361 million. These four companies are always in a battle to have the most market share and they will most likely be around offering their services for quite some time.

Overall cellular technologies have drastically improved from the first analog signals to the now standard 4G LTE used by many people daily. These improvements have led to the decline of landlines and the rise of cell phones being used everywhere. Now one cannot go far without seeing a cell phone. Everyone is now accessible through a few pushes, or gestures on their devices and the Mobile Service Providers continue their attempts to keep a strong grasp on the market.

Market Share Graphs

Landline Graph Click on the Graph to open a larger image in a new tab.