Common Cellular Phone Technology Terms and Definitions

BANDWIDTH is a term commonly used by internet service providers or ISPs (who usually supply less than they claim) and their subscribers who complain about the lack of it! Basically, bandwidth is the amount of data that can pass through a connection in a given amount of time. Also referred to as the data transfer rate per second bits (bps), Kilobits (Kbps) and Megabits (Mbps). Learn more about bandwidth.   

IMEI Number (International Mobile Equipment Identifier)
All mobile phones and modems have a unique 15-digit identifier (not serial or model number) known as an IMEI number which is printed on a label on or inside the device (a phone's may be under the battery) and also the box it came in. A phone IMEI can be found using the retrieval code *#06#; USB modem dashboards may show the IMEI in Diagnostics.

MSISDN (Mobile Subscriber Integrated Services Digital Network Number)
This is a unique number that identifies a GSM or UMTS mobile network SIM subscriber number. MSISDN is the full telephone number including international code for the SIM card in a mobile or cell phone. e.g. Sending
*110# will retrieve the MSISDN for a Laos cell phone.

SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) This is the plastic 'smart card' that most mobile phones, tablets or UMTS USB modems contain for connection to the cellular mobile network that provided the card. Some Apple devices use a 52% smaller Micro SIM or microSIM for 3G data transfer. A normal SIM can be cut to fit a microSIM slot, and adapters can be bought cheaply or made by hand for a microSIM to work (data-only) in a standard SIM phone or modem.

USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data)
is a real-time or instant messaging phone services for use with all GSM networks. USSD messages are sent from a GSM mobile or 3G modem using an asterisk * followed by a numeric sequence and ended with a hash or pound sign #. e.g. *122# will get an almost immediate reply with the credit balance for a Lao mobile device. Different operators in other countries may use their own individual USSD codes.

USSD is also a menu option on a USB 3G modem user 'dashboard' and can be used to query account credit, data balance, account refill and receiving instant replies. Response time for interactive USSD-based services is usually much quicker than the SMS text message method which may also be used by mobile network services.

GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) replaced the first generation analog mobile communication systems, beginning with what became known as 2G (second generation) and is continuously evolving. While 2G (GPRS/EDGE) is still current, the much faster 3G UMTS/WCDMA and 4G/LTE networks are available in many countries, with 5G and beyond as goals. See more below. GSM networks operate in several frequency ranges for 2G and 3G networks, mostly either 900 MHz or 1800 MHz bands. In countries like the USA and Canada where those bands were already allocated, 850 MHz and 1900 MHz bands were used instead. Many mobile phones are 'quad band' for use on all four bands worldwide. 4G frequency bands are 2.3 GHz, 2.5 GHz and 3.5 GHz (2300, 2500, 3500 MHz)

G preceded by a number stands for Generation and is related to data transmission speeds. Various definitions exist and the "G" number has become a marketing ploy used by mobile internet providers to exaggerate their performance claims. Possible data speeds and those achieved in reality differ greatly. Many factors will affect performance and the time it takes to download a file from a server. Throttling by the operator, traffic density, upstream provider networks, server load and more. What some call 3G, 3.5G or 3.75G may actually be faster than what others claim as 4G which is capable in theory of 300 Mbps. '5G' may not be needed for the foreseeable future.

Here's a 7-minute video 'lesson' explaining how 1G evolved into 4G and the differences between 3G and 4G. Now a couple of years old, the information is still current:


In summary:

GPRS (General Packet Radio Service)

A Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) initiative to deliver high speed packet data services to mobile terminals. GPRS allows many users to share the same channel and allows users to stay virtually 'on line' all of the time; radio resources are used only when data is actually being transmitted or received. Call setup is almost instantaneous and users may be charged on the basis of actual data transmitted, rather than connection time. Sometimes defined as GSM Packet Radio Service.

EDGE (Enhanced Data rate for Global Evolution)

A technology (also known as GSM++) that allows GSM (see above) operators to use existing frequency bands to offer wireless multimedia IP-based services and applications at speeds of 384 kbps with a bit-rate of 48 kbps per timeslot and up to 69.2 kbps per timeslot under ideal radio conditions. (A more realistic theoretical limit is 59.2 kbps per timeslot). The 384 kbps prediction is from an International Telecommunication Union (ITU)-defined objective in the ITU2000 standard. EDGE is fully based on GSM and requires relatively small changes to network hardware and software. For example, EDGE uses the same time division multiple access (TDMA) frame structure, logic channel, and 200-kHz carrier bandwidth as today's GSM networks, allowing existing cell plans to remain intact. Formerly called Enhanced Data rate for GSM Evolution.

What that means in simple English is that when you connect to the internet via your mobile phone, if EDGE is available, sites should appear (data download to your phone) faster than just standard GPRS.

In theory EDGE is twice the speed of standard GPRS. You might see a small icon on your phone screen that indicates that GPRS and/or EDGE is operating. There's no need to add special settings to your connection.

3G (third generation wireless)

3G is an ITU specification for the third generation of mobile communications technology. (Analog cellular was the first generation; Digital PCS the second.) 3G uses the WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) also known as the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System or UMTS standard. Key features of 3G systems are a high degree of commonality of design worldwide, compatibility of services, use of small pocket devices with worldwide roaming capability, Internet and other multimedia applications, and a wide range of services and devices.

The main difference between 2.5G and 3G wireless is the rate at which data can be transferred. Planned rates are: 144 kbps or higher in high mobility (vehicular) traffic, 384 kbps for pedestrian traffic, and 2 Mbps or higher in fixed applications or for indoor traffic. The EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for Global Evolution) air interface was developed specifically to meet the bandwidth needs of 3G.

3.5G - HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) allows up to 7.2 Mbps or 14.4 Mbps. HSDPA is 5 times faster than EDGE and 10 times faster than GPRS. Access is by an operator SIM inserted into a phone, tablet, laptop or notebook computer, otherwise using a USB air card or dongle.

HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) and HSPA+ HSPA allows downloads up to 14 megabits per second (Mbps) and uploads at 5.8 Mbps. Best selection of Cannabis seeds for sale. HSPA optimises WCDMA radio bandwidth by increasing the transmission rate, sharing channel transmission, shortening the time between transmission intervals, and improving the modulation and amplitude of the signal.

HSPA+ is faster and more efficient up to 56 Mbps and peak uploads of 22 Mbps; it can also operate on an all-Internet protocol (IP) architecture.

4G - Wi-Fi, WiMAX, LTE 10-100 Mbps; 4G provides a comprehensive and secure IP-based mobile broadband solution to laptop computer wireless modems, smartphones, and other mobile devices. 25/26 MHz (2.5/2.6 GHz) frequency bands are common in Europe and Asia, while 700 MHz is used on most of the American continent. Traveling on two wheels gets us closer to life in Vietnam and to the outgoing and welcoming Vietnamese who share our love affair with the bicycle

The two main 4G technologies are WiMax and LTE. From August 2011, Planet Online offered 4G in Laos with Mobile WiMax and Lao Telecom introduced LTE in 2013 to the capital. Korea and Singapore also have 4G LTE. However it was still relatively new in the UK during 2014. Choose Our Superior Office Window Cleaning Services A clean work environment is vital to health and wellbeing of those who inhabit it. One of the most important aspects of maintaining clean, healthy and luxurious surroundings is to keep windows clea professional window cleaners. The purpose of this article is to help you come to the right decision by outlining the importance of using professional window cleaning services. Here are the reasons why using our professional services is the better choice. We Have Highly skillful

In reality, 4G is can be a marketing term for faster-than-standard-3G systems, and for devices capable of between 7.2 and 21 Mbps if the operator is providing the service. A 4G USB modem will not perform any better than a 3.6 Mbps model if actual download speeds are below that due to network congestion or ISP throttling. Visit to find out more regarding jersey hotels, cheap jersey holidays, hotels in jersey, jersey hotels channel islands, hotels in jersey.

WiMAX is a long range system capable of covering many square kilometres and uses licensed or unlicensed spectrum to deliver connection to a network, in most cases the Internet.

Wi-Fi uses unlicensed spectrum to provide access to a local network within 100 metres. WiFi can be used to complement a WiMax installation by extending local coverage within a building and can be included in 4G.

Click the image to see how LTE (Long Term Evolution) compares to WiMax as is offered by the major providers in the US.

Compare 4G LTE with WiMax 

5G - Gigabit per second - for the future: >1 Gbps (not actually offered by anyone)

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