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3G Cellular: CDMA

This free lesson is part of Teracom's Online Course "Wireless Telecommunications".

Wireless Telecommunications is the second course in the CTNS Certification Package, a set of six courses plus Certified Telecommunications Network Specialist (CTNS) certification from the Telecommunications Certification Organization (TCO).

In this lesson, we’ll cover 3G mobile cellular radio technologies:

  • How the quest for an international standard to resolve 2G I-95 CDMA vs. GSM TDMA led to a Frankenstein standard called IMT-2000
  • How IMT-2000 included five different incompatible variations for implementing 3G
  • How two of them were of most interest: IMT-MC, also known as 1X, and IMT-DS, also known as UMTS, both employing CDMA technology
  • The tragic-comic attempts by Europeans to deploy UMTS without reliance on Qualcomm or on the United States government’s GPS
  • The data-optimized variations of the two, 1XEV-DO and HSPA respectively.
  • The capitulation of the 1X camp to the UMTS camp’s plan for 4G, and how that led to the widespread deployment of HSPA.
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Lesson Notes
The third generation of cellular is usually referred to as 3G.  The main objectives of the third generation were to improve capacity, the number of simultaneous users, and to increase the number of bits per second that can be transmitted over the airlink, for mobile wireless high-speed Internet access and video.

To try to avoid a repeat of the 2G CDMA vs. TDMA dichotomy, in 2000, a standards committee attempted to define a world standard for 3G called IMT-2000.  They failed.  The result was a “standard” describing five incompatible implementation variations.

3G cellular: CDMA - 1X

Like many other technologies, we ended up with one solution for “North America” and a different solution for “Europe”.

To support higher bit rates over the airlink, more frequency bandwidth is required.  Out of the five variations in IMT-2000, the two serious ones both specified CDMA as the method for spectrum-sharing – but disagreed on the width of the radio bands and how many bands there should be.

North America
Service providers using CDMA for 2G, primarily North American and certain Asian countries, favored a strategy that was basically a software upgrade from 2G, employing existing 1.25 MHz radio carriers and allowing multiple carriers.

This is called IMT-MC or multi-carrier CDMA.  Qualcomm’s brand name for this was CDMA2000.  The service provider could purchase licenses for as many bands as desired, and the bands can be variable sizes to meet different countries’ radio licensing plans, providing a flexible and scalable capacity. 

A single 1.25 MHz carrier version of this referred to as “1X” was widely deployed.

The Rest of the World
Service providers using GSM TDMA for second generation, primarily cellular carriers outside North America, favored the deployment of CDMA in a 5 MHz wide band. 

This was called IMT-DS, Direct Spread, Wideband CDMA (W-CDMA) and Universal Mobile Telephone Service (UMTS). An incentive for GSM operators was that, in theory, they would be able to re-use some control infrastructure from the second-generation TDMA GSM systems. 

However, practical functioning of a multi-user, multi-base station, mobile CDMA network requires among other things constant control of the power on the cellphones, so that the received power at the base station is the same from all the phones; and compensation for time delay differences from signals from the same phone received at different base stations.

In the 1X systems, this was accomplished using techniques patented by Qualcomm (and paying Qualcomm a royalty for every cell phone and every base station transceiver), and the United States government’s Global Positioning System respectively.

European operators, with their UMTS, did not favor the notion of paying an American company royalties, and did not favor building a network dependent on the American government’s GPS.

Since UMTS required mathematical calculations across a 5 MHz band, compared to 1X’s 1.25 MHz band, at the time, the processor in the phone required to perform such calculations drew so much current from the battery that the battery heated up to the point that people burned their hands on the phones.

The GSM/UMTS Europeans embarked on a seven-year-long odyssey attempting to circumvent Qualcomm patents, and avoid using GPS.  After a number of strategies failed, a Euro-GPS called Galileo was created for UMTS; the first satellite was launched December 28 2005.  This delayed deployment of UMTS until 2007.  1X was deployed and working years earlier.

The tipping point between 2G and 3G in the GSM/UMTS camp was reached in the summer of 2007, when more new activations on these carriers’ networks were 3G CDMA (UMTS) instead of 2G TDMA (GSM).  The 2G TDMA technology GSM still had far more users, but like 1G analog, GSM will eventually disappear. 


Data-optimized variations
For Internet access and watching video on cellphones, variations of the coding schemes optimizing for the statistical characteristics of “data” were developed and deployed by both camps.

In both cases, these were deployed on carriers (the 1.25 or 5 MHz bands) apart from those used for telephone calls.  Accessing these data carriers required either a “stick”, the USB dongle described in an earlier lesson, or dual radios in a phone, one tuned to the traditional carrier for telephone calls and a second tuned to the data-optimized carrier for watching video.

The 1X camp developed a variation called 1X Evolution Data-Optimized (1XEV-DO), allocating a carrier for data communications and promising 2.4 Mb/s over the airlink in the first incarnation.  Proposals for future revisions of EV-DO promised to support more than 70 Mb/s over the airlink.

In the UMTS camp, the variation was called High Speed Packet Access (HSPA), referring to improvements in the UMTS downlink, often called High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) and in the uplink, High Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA) and also Enhanced Dedicated Channel (E-DCH).  Revisions of HSDPA promised download rates of 14.4 Mb/s then 42 Mb/s.


Steve Jobs ends the standards war with the iPhone
Market forces finally pushed the two camps together. 

The fact that there were far more 2G GSM users on the planet meant that for one thing, handset manufacturers produced 2G GSM phones before 2G CDMA phones.  GSM phones were less expensive and had better features.  This trend was continuing into 3G, where UMTS phones would have the same advantage over 1X phones.

Another fact was that Steve Jobs of Apple only permitted carriers operating TDMA systems to have the iPhone, then only permitted carriers with HSPA systems to have the iPhone 3G.

Finally, the 1X camp threw in the towel and decided to go with the UMTS camp’s proposal for the fourth generation to level the playing field. 

As soon as that decision was made, then the deployment of 1XEV-DO was more or less capped, and 1X carriers began deploying HSPA instead. 

And the fact is, as soon as carriers that were in the 1X camp, like Verizon in the US and Bell and TELUS in Canada deployed HSPA, Steve Jobs allowed the iPhone on their networks.  As the iPhone was at the time the most popular phone, this was a major incentive for the 1X camp.  It appears that one of the legacies of Steve Jobs will not just be the iPhone, but a key part in ending the standards war.


In this lesson, we covered 3G:

  • The IMT-2000 “standard” that included five different incompatible variations for implementing 3G
  • The two that were of most interest: IMT-MC, also known as 1X, and IMT-DS, also known as UMTS, both employing CDMA technology
  • The attempts to deploy UMTS without Qualcomm or the US GPS leading to a seven-year delay in deploying UMTS.
  • The data-optimized variations of 1X and UMTS: 1XEV-DO and HSPA respectively.
  • How market forces caused the capitulation of the 1X camp, deciding to go with the UMTS camp’s plan for 4G, and how that led to the widespread deployment of HSPA.
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Overview of Courses included in the CTNS Certification Package
Like Teracom's famous core training Course 101 "Telecom, Datacom and Networking for Non-Engineers", our very popular core training DVD-Video packages and the Telecom 101 textbook, the Certified Telecommunications Network Specialist Certification Package begins with the Public Switched Telephone Network, then a course on Wireless Telecommunications, followed by four courses covering IP telecommunications and IP telecom networks.
If you are interested only in IP telecommunications, the CIPTS: Certified IP Telecom Network Specialist package may be appropriate, as it skips the traditional telephony and wireless and goes directly to the IP telecommunications courses.
If your goal is to build a full, rounded knowledge of telecommunications, then understanding the history, structure and operation of the telephone network built over the past 135 years or more is the starting point for everything else.
The CTNS package begins with Course 2201 POTS and the PSTN
On completion of this course, you will be able to draw a model of the Public Switched Telephone Network, identify its components and technologies including loops and trunks, switches, circuit-switching, explain the characteristics and operation of Plain Ordinary Telephone Service, analog and the voiceband, the outside plant, fiber to the neighborhood and remotes.
We begin with a history lesson, understanding how and why telephone networks and the companies that provide them are organized into local access and inter-city transmission, or as we will see, Local Exchange Carriers (LECs) and Inter-Exchange Carriers (IXCs).
Then we will establish a basic model for the PSTN and understand its main components: Customer Premise, Central Office, loop, trunk, outside plant, circuit switching, attenuation, loop length, remotes, and why knowledge of the characteristics of the loop remains essential knowledge even though we are moving to Voice over IP.
Next, we'll cover aspects of telephony and Plain Ordinary Telephone Service, including analog, the voiceband, twisted pair, supervision and signaling including DTMF. The course is completed with an overview of SS7, the control system for the telephone network in the US and Canada.
The next course in the CTNS package is Course 2206 Wireless Telecommunications
On completion of this course, you will be able to draw a model of a cellular wireless telecommunications network, identify all of its components and technologies from handset to mobile switch, and explain the characteristics and operation of FDMA, TDMA, CDMA and OFDMA, and how each was deployed for AMPS, GSM, UMTS and LTE. You will also be able to explain WiFi, the frequencies used and the different 802.11 standards, and the similarities and differences between LEO and GEO satellites.
In many parts of the world, particularly outside Canada, the US and Western Europe, this is the physical telephone network, as deploying radio transceivers is far cheaper than embarking on a new project to pull copper wires and/or fiber to every residence.
Most of this course is devoted to mobile wireless telecommunications. We begin with basic concepts and terminology including base stations and transceivers, mobile switches and backhaul, handoffs, cellular radio concepts and digital radio concepts.
Then, we cover spectrum-sharing technologies and their variations in chronological order: GSM/TDMA vs. CDMA for second generation, 1X vs. UMTS CDMA for third generation along with their data-optimized 1XEV-DO and HSPA, how Steve Jobs ended the standards wars with the iPhone and explaining the OFDM spectrum-sharing method of LTE for 4G.
This course is completed with a lesson on WiFi, or more precisely, 802.11 wireless LANs, and a lesson on satellite communications.
The remaining four courses in the CTNS package are on the "IP" telecommunications network and its three main enabling technologies: Ethernet, IP and MPLS, and beginning with the OSI model and its layers to establish a framework.
If you'd prefer to take just these four "IP" courses, please check out the Certified IP Telecom Network Specialist package.
Course 2212 The OSI Layers and Protocol Stacks
On completion of this course, you will be able to define a protocol and differentiate that from a standard, explain why a layered architecture is required, list the seven layers of the OSI model, the name, purpose and functions of each one, and explain how a protocol stack operates and where the protocol headers are located.
This course establishes a framework for all of the subsequent discussions: the OSI 7-Layer Reference Model, which identifies and divides the functions to be performed into groups called layers. This framework is required to sort out the many functions that need to be performed, and to be able to discuss separate issues separately.
First, we'll define the term "protocol" and compare that to a standard. Then we'll define "layer" and how a layered architecture operates, and provide an overview of the name, purpose and function of each of the seven layers in the OSI model.
Then, we'll go back through the story more slowly, with one lesson for each of the layers, examining in greater detail the functions that have to be performed and giving examples of protocols and how and where they are used to implement particular layers.
The result is a protocol stack, one protocol on top of another on top of another to fulfill all of the required functions. To make this more understandable, this course ends with the famous FedEx Analogy illustrating the concepts using company-to-company communications, and an analogy of Babushka dolls to illustrate how the protocol headers are nested at the bits level.
Next is Course 2211 Ethernet, LANs and VLANs – which could also be titled "Layer 2"
On completion of this course, you will be able to define the purpose and basic functioning of a LAN, what a broadcast domain is, explain Ethernet and the 802 standards from 10BASE-5 to 1000BASE-T and Gigabit Ethernet, MAC addresses, cable categories, bridging, how LAN switches work and what they do, VLANs, LAN jargon and buzzwords, and how LANs implement Layer 2 of the OSI model, moving data between two devices on the same circuit - or to be more precise, between two devices that are in the same broadcast domain.
As we will have established in the previous course, Layer 2 is all about communications between two devices that are on the same circuit, or more precisely, in the same broadcast domain. It turns out that this is implemented by moving frames with link addresses over physical connections following the 802 series of standards, colloquially referred to as Ethernet, MAC frames and MAC addresses.
We'll begin with the original LAN: Ethernet and its bus topology, defining "broadcast domain" and explaining its fundamental operation and characteristics: CSMA-CD access control, MAC addresses and MAC frames.
Then we'll cover the IEEE 802 standards and the evolution of Ethernet from 10BASE-T to Gig-E, LAN cables and the TIA-568 cable categories, basic cabling design; what "bridging" means and how a LAN switch works.
This course is completed with the important concept of VLANs: defining broadcast domains in software, a key part of basic network security practice.
Then Course 2213 IP Networks, Routers and Addresses – which could also be titled "Layer 3"
On completion of this course, you will be able to explain how IP packet networks implement Layer 3 of the OSI model, define bandwidth on demand and its advantages, what a router does, the basic structure of a routing table, where routers are located, define the IPv4 address structure and dotted-decimal notation, explain how both static and dynamic addresses are assigned using DHCP, what private addresses are and how they are interfaced to the public IP network, and the structure, allocation and assignment of IPv6 addresses.
This is a comprehensive course on Layer 3 of the OSI Model, concentrating on IP addresses, routers and packets. We begin with the two basic principles of packet networks: bandwidth on demand, also known as overbooking or statistical multiplexing; and packet-switching, also known as packet forwarding or routing.
We'll understand what routers do and where they are located, routing tables and the basic operation of a router and the standard strategy deploying an edge router between the LANs and the WAN at each location.
Then we'll cover IP version 4: address classes and how they are assigned to Regional Internet Registries then ISPs then end-users, dotted-decimal notation, static addresses, dynamic addresses and DHCP, public addresses, private addresses and NAT.
The course concludes with IPv6: the IPv6 packet and changes from IPv4, IPv6 address allocations and assignments and end up understanding how IPv6 subnets will be assigned to broadcast domains and 18 billion billion addresses per residence.
The last course in this certification package is Course 2214 MPLS and Carrier Networks
On completion of this course, you will be able to draw a model for a service provider's network, define the terms Customer Edge and Provider Edge, explain what a traffic profile is and how that relates to a Service Level Agreement, how Frame Relay got its name, what ATM is and why it is on the way out, the purpose, components, terminology and operation of MPLS, and how MPLS can be used to implement integration or convergence, aggregation and differentiated classes of service – what people mean when they say "MPLS service" and its pros and cons compared to Internet service.
This is an extensive and comprehensive course devoted to the structure, components and operation of carrier packet networks and services, how they are implemented, packaged and marketed, and how they are used by government, business and other carriers.
The IP packets and routing of the previous course is one part of the story. Performance guarantees, and methods for quality of service, traffic management, aggregation and integration is another big part of the story, particularly once we leave the lab and venture into the real world and the business of telecommunications services.
We'll begin by establishing a basic model for a customer obtaining service from a provider, defining Customer Edge, Provider Edge, access and core, and a Service Level Agreement: traffic profile vs. transmission characteristics.
Next, we'll understand virtual circuits, a powerful tool used for traffic management and variations like connection-oriented vs. connectionless communications and reliable vs. unreliable network services.
With the fundamentals in place, we will survey the different technologies used to implement this in practice: Frame Relay, ATM and MPLS, explaining the equipment, jargon and principles of operation, and the advantages each technology has over the previous. In particular, we'll understand the big advantage of MPLS over Frame Relay in the user-network interface.
Once we've covered all of the components of an MPLS network and its operation, we'll see how MPLS is used to implement Diff-Serv, i.e. different classes of service, how MPLS is used to implement integration or "convergence" of services onto a single network service, and how MPLS is used to aggregate traffic for management.
The course is completed with a lesson on "MPLS service", and how that compares to Internet service.
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About TCO Certification
Teracom is a Gold Training Partner of the Telecommunications Certification Organization, authorized to administer exams for TCO certifications on the myTeracom Learning Management System and award TCO Certifications.
TCO Certification is proof of your knowledge of telecom, datacom and networking fundamentals, jargon, buzzwords, technologies and solutions.
It's backed up with a Certificate suitable for framing - plus a personalized Letter of Reference / Letter of Introduction detailing the knowledge your TCO Certification represents and inviting the recipient to contact Teracom for verification.
You may list Teracom Training Institute as a reference on your résumé if desired.
Getting your Certificate

Each course has a course exam, consisting of ten multiple-choice questions chosen at random from a pool and shuffled in order. Passing the course exams proves your knowledge of these topics and results in your certification as a Certified Telecommunications Network Specialist.

Your Certificate and Letter of Reference / Letter of Introduction will be immediately available for download from your Dashboard in the myTeracom Learning Management System. You may also order a signed and sealed Certificate by airmail.
Choosing the "Unlimited Plan" at registration allows you to repeat courses and/or exams at no additional charge – which means guaranteed to pass if you're willing to learn.
Alternatively, if you like this discounted package of courses, but don't need the certification – or don't feel like writing exams – no problem! Take the Telecom, Datacom and Networking for Non-Engineers course package, which includes the same courses as the CTNS certification package, without the certification exams.
Benefits of Certification for Individuals

One benefit of TCO certification is differentiating yourself from the rest of the crowd when applying for a job or angling for a promotion.

The knowledge you gain taking Teracom's Online Courses, confirmed with TCO Certification, is foundational knowledge in telecommunications, IP, networking and wireless: fundamental concepts, mainstream technologies, jargon, buzzwords, and the underlying ideas - and how it all fits together.
This type of knowledge and preparation makes you an ideal candidate to hire or promote to a task, as you will be able to build on your knowledge base to quickly get up to speed and work on a particular project - then have the versatility to work on subsequent projects.
TCO Certification will help demonstrate you have this skill... a desirable thought to have in your potential manager's mind.
Benefits of Certification for Employers
Take advantage of these courses for individual learning, a team, or for an entire organization. The scalable myTeracom Learning Management System can register and manage all of your people through their courses, lessons and exams, and generate management reports showing progress and scores with the click of a button.
For larger organizations, the courses and exams can also be licensed and deployed on an organization's internal LMS.

Teracom certification packages are an extremely cost-effective way of implementing consistent, comprehensive telecommunications and networking technology fundamentals training, ensuring that both existing resources and new hires are up to the same speed, with a common vocabulary, framework and knowledge base.

The course exams provide concrete measurements of competency in key knowledge areas. Management can view the progress and results of all team members and export the results to Excel with the click of a button.
These reports identify skills deficiencies and strengths, and provide tangible proof of return on investment and team readiness for reports to upper management.
Based on Teracom's proven instructor-led training courses developed and refined over twenty years providing training for organizations including AT&T, Verizon, Bell Canada, Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, Qualcomm, the CIA, NSA, IRS, FAA, US Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force and hundreds of others, Teracom online courses are top-notch, top-quality and right up to date with the topics and knowledge you need.

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