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What's In A Name?

By Perry LaForge
August 1997

In June 1997, the CDMA Development Group (CDG) formally unveiled the cdmaOne name and logo at the Second Annual CDMA World Congress(R) in Singapore. Our goal in developing this brand was to create a global technology designator for IS-95 based CDMA systems. As cdmaOne becomes an increasingly common term in the global wireless industry, I'd like to take this opportunity to discuss the meaning behind the name and the advantages it provides to CDG member companies and to share with you our vision for wireless communication in the years to come.

Why cdmaOne?

The name cdmaOne allows us to communicate a number of important messages. First, cdmaOne represents the end-to-end wireless system and the necessary specifications (e.g. IS-95, IS-96, IS-41, etc.) that govern its operation. It is, therefore, a much more inclusive term than IS-95 CDMA, which refers only to the air interface specification. The designator "One" underscores the fact that one technology will provide a family of related services, including cellular, PCS, wireless local loop and satellite communications.

Second, the name cdmaOne and its use by CDG member companies implies a strong show of support for one type of CDMA technology. The phenomenal success of IS-95 based CDMA has inspired the proponents of competing spread spectrum technologies to use imitative names to mask the differences between systems. cdmaOne was chosen to clearly differentiate between IS-95 based CDMA and other, proprietary CDMA systems while maintaining an equally clear positioning against older digital technologies.

Third, cdmaOne is a clear and simple technology designator that can coexist with service brand names while providing a common link between cdmaOne network operators around the globe. By providing a globally recognizable technology brand, cdmaOne becomes a key element for the continued growth and integration of IS-95 CDMA systems worldwide.

Technology Matters!

A few years ago, all sorts of wireless industry analysts argued that the underlying network technologies were of no interest to the end-consumer; all that mattered were pricing and time to market. As it turned out, the existence of multiple wireless platforms means that the ability to differentiate technologies is a necessity in today's market. The introduction of cdmaOne was an inevitable response to this need.

A familiar technology brand is a powerful marketing asset. This is especially true for new entrants to the wireless services arena, who may lack the visibility provided by a well-known service brand. As a globally recognizable technology brand, cdmaOne can enhance the market presence of new service providers without overshadowing their corporate name or service brand. Larger, established service providers can similarly benefit from the cdmaOne designator. I am sure you will see greater use of cdmaOne in both North America and Asia as more networks launch in the next year.

cdmaOne is also emerging as an important technology designator for CDMA infrastructure and subscriber products. This will be clearly evident when several terminal manufacturers launch new products this year prominently displaying the cdmaOne logo on the packaging and product literature. The leading infrastructure manufacturers have also incorporated cdmaOne in their CDMA product line descriptions.

Thanks to the strong support of the CDG member companies, cdmaOne is gaining momentum in major markets around the world. We are confident that cdmaOne will be a globally recognized brand for IS-95 based CDMA technology by the middle of 1998. While the next three years will see the global deployment of cdmaOne systems continue to accelerate, the CDG is already moving aggressively to define and develop the wideband CDMA technology that will succeed cdmaOne.

Vision for the future

The cdmaOne networks now in deployment around the world will provide the foundation for future wireless services and capabilities that have been unimaginable until recently. "Third Generation" CDMA systems will allow subscribers to experience new and unique service offerings such as multimedia and high speed data transfer, subscriber-controlled service customization, enhanced global roaming and location services.

The team members of the CDG Advanced Systems Initiative are working to develop a worldwide standard that meets the IMT-2000 service requirements. A key characteristic of the CDG initiative is that our vision of next generation CDMA technology will provide a smooth migration path for existing cdmaOne systems.

The CDG approach will offer cdmaOne system operators the ability to gracefully transition customers to the new system. Further advantages for operators will include reduced risk due to the use of proven IS-95/ANSI-41 standards and existing cdmaOne network equipment whenever possible. Also, a broad list of potential suppliers of next generation cdmaOne equipment already exists. Finally, the advanced system is intended to interface seamlessly with existing cdmaOne systems, thereby providing enhanced global roaming opportunities to next generation cdmaOne subscribers.

When will all of this take place?

Efforts are well underway within the CDG to define and evaluate the evolution of cdmaOne, and to take advantage of the large and growing technology base of cdmaOne systems for successfully launching to the next generation. The CDG is active in regional and international forums for developing the requisite standards to provide these capabilities. Initial products may be available in as early as three years.

Whatever the future holds, of this much I am sure: cdmaOne systems will continue to expand around the world, bringing the highest quality wireless service available to millions of subscribers worldwide. These systems, in turn, will provide the base for a quantum jump in wireless communications capabilities. I believe that the outcome of this process will be that cdmaOne will become the leading technology for the global wireless communications market, much as it dominates the North American PCS market today.