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Growth and Expansion of IS-95 CDMA

CDMA has confounded the skeptics and captured a significant portion of the worldwide market. That however, is only the start. It's time to look to the future.

Perry LaForge
Executive Director, CDMA Development Grou

Welcome to the first issue of CDMA Spectrum, the quarterly journal of the CDMA world. As the Executive Director of the CDMA Development Group (CDG), I am pleased to introduce this periodical. We will be working in partnership with Mobile Communications International who will be the publishers of this new title.

The main goals that we have for this magazine are: to chronicle the adoption and deployment of CDMA systems around the world; to highlight the development of CDMA products and services; and to provide a forum for discussion of issues that impact both CDMA equipment manufacturers and service providers.


The launch of CDMA Spectrum represents an important milestone in the growth and expansion of IS-95 CDMA and the CDG. In one sense, CDMA Spectrum symbolizes the success of the CDMA industry. The skeptics who derided the technology have fallen silent. CDMA has clearly demonstrated its advantages in commercial deployments around the world and secured a position as a leading worldwide wireless standard.

Many observers now herald CDMA as the solution for next generation systems. CDMA has become an integral part of the global wireless marketplace, where the struggle for market penetration will proceed in parallel with the race to bring new features, services and functionality to customers. CDMA Spectrum will chronicle this race and address issues influencing the worldwide growth of CDMA.


Although I am ever the optimist, there are unfortunately a few of our worldwide readership that may not be entirely familiar with the CDG. Our membership now includes over eighty of the world's largest equipment manufacturers and service providers. These companies have substantial experience in all wireless technologies. They have chosen to be part of the CDG, however, because they recognize the substantial advantages that CDMA enjoys in the wireless marketplace of today and tomorrow. The goal of the CDG is to establish CDMA as the most robust, feature-rich and widely deployed wireless standard in the world. We've worked hard so far, but we intend to work even harder to achieve our goal.


The CDG's technical and business development teams have played an essential role in our achievements. CDG technical teams have worked to create a set of integrated specifications for all aspects of CDMA systems, from the air interface to the network. Similarly, we are developing standards that we can leverage across cellular, Personal Communication Services (PCS) and wireless local loop (WLL) applications. This will provide unmatched economies of scale and a set of robust specifications that provide unique functionality and feature transparency. CDG technical teams have pioneered services such as over-the-air activation (OTA), short message service (SMS), roaming and now high-speed data.

CDG business development teams work with operators around the world to share best practice information on system deployment and operations. The teams are working to establish fully automatic roaming arrangements among CDG member companies, thus ensuring consumers the capability to roam throughout the world.


The next great challenge for the CDG and its members is the development of broadband services that continue to provide the same superior level of voice quality as existing IS-95 systems. To meet this challenge, the CDG recently announced the Advanced Systems Initiative.

The goal of the Advanced Systems Initiative is to guide the evolution of CDMA to meet the requirements for wireless broadband services well into the 21st century. As members of a dedicated Advanced Systems team, wireless industry leaders from Japan, Korea, Canada, the United States and other countries are working together to develop multimedia capability, including high-speed data transmission, full motion video services, video conferencing and Internet access, for wireless networks. The Advanced Systems team will also work to provide a simplified path for the evolution of CDMA technology while maintaining backward compatibility with existing IS-95 based CDMA systems.


How have we done? Forbes magazine recently noted that CDMA had "pulled off a world class upset" over TDMA systems and projected that we will be the dominant player in the wireless world.

By all important technical measures, such as dropped call performance, call capacity and voice quality, CDMA is achieving world-class results. Most importantly, CDMA is allowing operators to achieve a remarkable level of customer satisfaction. As Dr Jung Uck Seo, the Chief Executive Officer of SK Telecom reports: "CDMA is working and working well for our over 1.1 million digital customers."

A further indication of the success of CDMA has been the pace of CDMA system deployment around the world. Since September 1995 when the world's first commercial CDMA cellular system entered service in Hong Kong, CDMA networks have been deployed in 25 countries, serving over 2 million subscribers. When compared to the first-year growth of other wireless technologies, CDMA has achieved a much faster customer acceptance rate than any other wireless system in existence.

The Hong Kong cellular CDMA system plans to expand service to two carriers and 150,000 subscribers by the end of 1997. South Korea now boasts over 1.5 million subscribers for CDMA cellular service. To augment the two existing cellular carriers, three CDMA PCS providers plan to launch in Korea by 1998.

In recent months, Japan has moved quickly to implement CDMA, both as an element of national telecommunications policy and as a solution to a growing shortage of cellular spectrum. China has also moved aggressively to adopt CDMA: large-scale trials of both cellular and WLL systems are under way or being planned in Beijing, Shanghai and several other cities.

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand are deploying CDMA cellular or PCS systems. India has a CDMA WLL system operating in New Delhi. In the Middle East, Israel is conducting a large-scale CDMA trial in the city of Tel Aviv. Finally, Yemen plans to deploy a CDMA fixed wireless network to provide basic telephone service in Aden and other major cities.

CDMA clearly dominates the digital wireless market in North America. The idea of a CDMA time-to-market disadvantage was shattered by the rapid deployment of two CDMA PCS networks across the continental United States, well before other technologies came to market. Canada will roll out CDMA cellular and PCS service in most large cities by 1998.

In the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic plans to deploy both cellular and WLL systems in the capital city of Santo Domingo by mid-1997. In South America, Chile and Peru have moved boldly to pioneer CDMA systems. Chile will implement the continent's first CDMA PCS network by 1998 and Peru has a CDMA cellular system in place in the capital city of Lima.


Even in Europe, where the telecommunications market has been denied to CDMA by government mandate, CDMA systems are not entirely absent. A CDMA system is currently undergoing trials in the city of Muenster in Germany and a WLL system, is on trial in Warsaw, Poland. Russia will deploy CDMA cellular systems in the cities of Moscow, Oblast, Chelyabinsk and Ivanovo; WLL systems will also deploy in the first three of these cities.

Finally, three nations in Africa-Nigeria, Zaire and Zambia-plan to deploy CDMA cellular or WLL systems in the next year.

To summarize, CDMA has experienced the most rapid deployment and rise in subscriber numbers of any wireless technology. The record for the next three years should be equally strong, even as CDMA technology evolves to meet the challenges of the 21st century.


Although the past two years has been a period of tremendous accomplishments, I am quite confident that the achievements of the next three years will be even more impressive. Between now and the year 2000, cellular, PCS and WLL system deployments throughout the world will reach completion, bringing the superior performance of CDMA to millions of new customers.

At the same time, the CDG Advanced Systems Initiative will usher in a large array of new features and services that will change the way we live and work. CDMA is serving today's wireless marketplace and will serve as the technology of the evolving wireless world of the future. We look forward to having CDMA Spectrum as a vehicle for sharing CDMA's successes around the world.