'CDMA beats 3G, WiMax'

'CDMA beats 3G, WiMax'

2008-03-17 15:56

Cape Town - Almost 95% of newly licenced telecoms operators in Africa prefer CDMA over GSM and WiMax as their technology of choice.

Research unveiled at the CDMA EMEA region summit held in Cape Town showed that 21 of the 23 new telecoms operators recently awarded operational licences and were currently rolling out their networks in sub-Saharan Africa - including Neotel in SA - chose to adopt CDMA shunning the more ubiquitous GSM and WiMax.

The report which paints a rosy picture of CDMA uptake shows that the technology is proving receptive in emerging Asian and African markets.

A bullish Bill Hearman, chairperson of the African CDMA forum, says there were currently 34 telecoms operators in Africa running on a CDMA platform and that number is expected to swell in the next 12 months - at least given the number of new deployments across the continent.

Hearman attributes the anticipated uptake to a lower total cost of ownership and spectrum efficiency-considerations he says were critical to most cash strapped prospective telecoms entrants.

"CDMA allows voice and data and voice to be separated from the physical signals using multiple codes and then transmitted using a wide frequency range.

"That allows transmission speeds up to five times faster than GSM. Unlike GSM, an operator using CDMA doesn't need to deploy an extensive backbone infrastructure. You can do a lot with fewer base stations," says Hearman.


Ihab Osman, chief technical officer of Sudatel, the biggest CDMA operator in North Africa, concurred with Hearman's assertion arguing that technological and economic considerations were critical factors that weigh heavily in an operator's choice of technology.

Osman argued that CDMA phones were, in terms of multimedia functions, more advanced than GSM phones. "They have a higher quality voice call.

As for data transfer, the 3G type of CDMA is faster than the current version of WCDMA (which the GSM operators use for 3G services). However, over and above that, it's the low cost of deploying a network that influenced our overall decision.

Bob Palitz, MD of Kasapa Telecoms - a small telecoms service provider in Ghana with about 225 000 cellular subscribers backed Singh's view arguing that CDMA's spectral efficiency advantages have had far-reaching ramifications for the company's business and pricing model.

"The cost per subscriber on a CDMA network is significantly lower than one on GSM."

But concerns around the availability of CDMA handsets prompted Telecoms analyst Richard Hurst to cast aspersions on the anticipated uptake.

Michelle Park, global business development head at Rose Telecom (one of the vendors leading the CDMA advocacy push) says that concerns that the limited number of CDMA handsets in the market would scupper adoption were ill-founded. "Rose Telecoms and other vendors - including Huawei and Motorola - have committed to shipping to the market nearly 100m CDMA enabled handsets over the next three years."

- Fin24