Third generation networks, or 3G, are used by billions of mobile broadband subscribers all over the world. Yet the term 3G can include a variety of different systems. One of the most prevalent is WCDMA or HSPA. WCDMA stands for Wideband Code Division Multiple Access, and it’s helpful to take a closer look at how it works and what its advantages are if you’re comparing different forms of network technology.
The Basic Technology
WCDMA was originally developed by NTT DoCoMo, a Japanese mobile operator, but since then it’s become an international standard used all over the world. Most prevalent in Asia and Europe, you’ll find that new devices globally are designed to be compatible with this type of 3G system. WCDMA combines CDMA and GSM technologies into a faster, more efficient system. It operates using two channels, each of which covers 5Mhz. GSM alone belongs to the 2G network, while WCDMA is a faster, more modern standard. The two use different frequency bands, but most new devices are equipped to be compatible with both 2G and 3G networks.
Advantages and Disadvantages
So what are the potential advantages of a WCDMA system? One of its greatest strengths is that it’s capable of handling a high volume of devices in a single area, which makes it a good choice in densely populated urban environments. It’s also able to handle rapid data transfers, making it well suited for video calls and streaming video. WCDMA allows each individual transmitter to be assigned an ID code, which allows data from numerous transmitters to be carried on the same frequency without any loss of the signal strength. Interference is also reduced due to this practice.
On the other hand, a major downside of WCDMA is that it’s not widely used throughout the entire world. Although most new devices are also compatible with 2G or GSM networks, if you are using one which only works with WCDMA you may find that your options are limited during international travel. For example, it’s not widely used within North and South America like it is within Asia.
How WCDMA is Evolving
Although 4G and even 5G networks are currently being tested and deployed worldwide, WCDMA is still evolving at the same time. This type of network system continues to be enhanced, so that new forms of WCDMA developed by providers like Nokia Networks offer a higher network capacity and improvements in user experience. Today’s WCDMA is supported by most new devices as well. The future of WCDMA will most likely include faster data transmission rates, achieved through several methods. Today’s CDMA system already provides higher data transmission rates both in relation to the uplink and downlink, and as there is an increase in available radio channel bandwidth this could continue to grow.
With 2G, 3G, 4G, and now 5G, it can be confusing to keep track of all the different types of networks out there. WCDMA is a widespread 3G system that is worth knowing more about, in order to determine if it will suit your communication needs.