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Google Pulls Support For CDMA Devices

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the who-needs-cdma-anyway dept.

Android 272

An anonymous reader writes "Google has just made some interesting changes to their developer pages. As of today, all of the documentation, source code, and firmware images pertaining to CDMA Android devices (including the Verizon Galaxy Nexus) have been removed. A statement from Google explains that the proprietary software required to make these devices fully functional got in the way of Android's open source nature, so CDMA devices are no longer supported as developer hardware. What does this mean for the Galaxy Nexus, which is only available as CDMA in the U.S.?"

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272 comments

For us non-US folk... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38933557)

How widespread is the use of CDMA in the first place?

Re:For us non-US folk... (5, Funny)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933585)

It's used in the US, where they are 20 years behind the rest of the world in mobile phones.

Come on, America, at least move onto GSM. Now that it's all being ripped out and replaced with 3G there's a lot of GSM hardware on the second-hand market. It's not even expensive.

Make things easy on yourselves. Take that giant leap into the year 2000.

Re:For us non-US folk... (5, Insightful)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933607)

Come on, America, at least move onto GSM. ... Take that giant leap into the year 2000.

What are you talking about? GSM has been available in the U.S. since before 2000. It's not our fault some carriers hold onto CDMA. But really, you can't blame them when it worked perfectly well for their purposes. Me, I think a lot of it was to make it more difficult for people to use second-hand phones, since you can't just swap your service from one phone to another on your own like you can GSM.

Re:For us non-US folk... (5, Insightful)

segin (883667) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933679)

Except that East Asian deployments of CDMA2000 use SIM for network authentication - changing phones in Japan, Korea, or India is as simple as moving a little smartcard around. Just like in GSM. Don't hold me to it, but it might also apply to CDMA2000 networks in Eastern Europe.

Only in the Americas do CDMA2000 networks still use MEID for authentication, as far as I know.

Re:For us non-US folk... (4, Insightful)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933745)

Only in the Americas do CDMA2000 networks still use MEID for authentication, as far as I know.

So... you're agreeing with me then? Yes, perhaps there are some versions of CDMA that have the flexibility of SIMs, but that's not what the U.S. carriers deployed. That still jives with my idea the choice was entirely deliberate to help carriers maintain control of hardware (and customers) and boost contract re-ups, etc.

It's just another method of creating artificial business barriers in an increasingly small world. Like region encoding DVDs and the U.S. adopting ATSC for HD broadcasting instead of using DVB-T or ISDB.

Re:For us non-US folk... (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934099)

Well there's that, but these days, people are becoming increasingly accustomed to high priced phones and changing them out when new models come out. I don't like the trend, but it is what it is. My old Sansung Vibrant was and still is a great phone with its being rooted and having custom firmware. My Samsung Titanium hasn't been rooted yet and has bloatware and all that crap still... (Holding out hope for an ICS upgrade OTA which is supposed to be "any day now" right?) I'll probably get tired of waiting, root and install a custom ROM pretty soon, but wait! A new Galaxy S III is to be announced in June... should I be getting ready to buy that? Consumer instinct says yes.

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933747)

Is RUIM used as yet by phones from Verizon or Sprint?

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38933821)

In Eastern Europe, you just move the SIM from one phone to another. That's it. You want to change networks, just go to a dealer, 5 min at most for the transaction, one or two hours (at most) before the change takes effect.

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934163)

Only in the Americas do CDMA2000 networks still use MEID for authentication, as far as I know.

Only in the USA, as far as I know... here in Canada, Telus/Bell (and their subsidiaries and hangers-on) are using a WCDMA/HSPA network on 850/1900, and they've switched to SIM cards too. They do still support CDMA devices, as they've sold them, but they don't sell them any more. The only other major players in the country were using GSM with SIM cards all along.

Actually, I think even in the USA, they've changed their tune... Verizon used to be the only holdout, and a quick search of their website shows that you can get a SIM card for their network now. T-Mob was on GSM since the beginning, and you've been able to get a SIM card for ATT for years now.

Re:For us non-US folk... (2)

Zeroedout (2036220) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934247)

T-Mobile also operates a UMTS IV (AWS) aka wcdma2000 network. Here in Vancouver (and other parts of Canada), we have two carriers that use this network; WInd and Mobilicity. They also operate the only network that doesn't have what I call, "rape my asshole till it bleeds" data rates. On the GSM providers, $45/month minimum and you get 100MB of data : On the AWS guys, $35/month for unlimited talk/text/data from Mobilicity and $29 from Wind (though after 10GB with them your speed goes down to 256Kbit). On a related personal note, I just grabbed a wcdma Nexus One and this is really fucking annoying. I hate Canadian cell phone networks!

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934521)

Oh, I'm quite familiar with Wind/Mobilicity and their famous rates. I'm also familiar with how the town I live in is *just* outside their coverage areas for Ottawa, and have been on the 'planned expansion' list for both carriers for almost 2 years. I'm aware that they're having some issues getting licensing from the CRTC and building towers, but there's only so long I'm willing to wait without any kind of update from them. Even if I won't get it for another couple of years, they could at least tell me *when* they plan on expanding their network in my area, so that I could make plans. They're great if you live in a big city, and utterly useless if you don't.

I'm using very little data at the moment... according to Koodo, I used 12mb in the last 30 days, chiefly because I use my phone's data for e-mail, calendar, and contact sync, and that's it... everything else (apps/etc) gets done over wifi, and when I want to consume media that I don't have on my SD card, my phone has an FM radio (and I'm considering buying a phone from southeast asia that has all of the above and also an ATSC decoder). I pay $40/mo for 150 anytime mins, 5pm unlimited evenings/weekends (and let's be realistic, I'm not on the phone when I'm at work), unlimited domestic long distance, all of the calling features, and unlimited global texting, including the small amount of data I use. I realize I could get a better deal from Wind or Mobilicity, but considering that I'd be on roaming most of the time (at $0.20/min), it would end up costing a *lot* more than I currently pay Koodo. It's still money in Telus' pocket in the end, which I'm not overly happy about, but it's a heck of a lot better than I could get from Telus directly, let alone Bell or Rogers, all of whom would cost me more than $100/mo and saddle me with a lot of extra data I have no use for. (500mb for all 3 of them... even if I bumped my data usage to the same relative tier with Koodo, it would cost half that... $50/mo if I used 300mb, or $55/mo for 1gb).

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

thopkins (70408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934817)

Verizon phones only take SIM cards for either:
A) using the phone overseas. It will not work on a US GSM network
B) LTE - 4G data. At this point you can swap SIMs with other Verizon phones/devices but not with another carriers'.

Re:For us non-US folk... (2)

Paintballparrot (1504383) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934173)

Actually on Verizon switching phones is as easy as calling an activation number and waiting about 2 minutes for your old phone to be disconnected and your new one to be set up. The last time I had a GSM phone about 5 years ago service was widely unavailable in many rural parts of the Mid-Atlantic region and its still impossible to get GSM signal in underground areas (parking garages, basements, certain bars, etc.)

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

Jus10h (1958898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934331)

Exactly, in my area (rural Midwest) GSM phones still are nearly as useful as paperweights half of the time, hardly ever have signal problems with Verizon's network and it's data speeds beat my DSL anyway.

Re:For us non-US folk... (5, Interesting)

sudden.zero (981475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934861)

Actually, I work in a lab that programs, tests, and services phones on all four carriers. You are absolutely correct in your statement! Sprint and Verizon both were using CDMA for that reason. Verizon has now switched to LTE for quite a bit of it's network but Sprint is still using a combination of CDMA and WiMax. While AT&T and T-Mobile were using GSM but have now mostly switched to HSDPA(HSPA+) and LTE respectively.

What most people don't realize is that none of the technologies that are currently out can truly be called 4G! Unlike 3G, there is no specific standard for what is considered 4G service yet. The industry is saying that these specifications are in development, but right now 4G is more of a gimmick to get consumers to buy the latest and greatest thing! 2G service came out around 1995, 3G came out around 2005. Mobile infrastructures, in the USA at least, seem to be on a ten year cycle. With that said there most likely will not be a "4G standard" till around 2015. Sprint actually has the most right to call it's network 4G, not because of speed, but because it is the 4th generation of it's network.

Re:For us non-US folk... (2)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933615)

Come on, America, at least move onto GSM.

Yeah, AT&T's pages don't mention GSM very much - they keep going on about some "LTE" thing. Hopefully they'll be upgrading from that weird technology to standard GSM some day....

(Yes, I know. The early noughts called, they want their snark about the US mobile phone network back....)

Re:For us non-US folk... (2, Informative)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933671)

Come on, America, at least move onto GSM. Now that it's all being ripped out and replaced with 3G there's a lot of GSM hardware on the second-hand market. It's not even expensive.

You do know that the 3G you are referring to is also known as Wideband CDMA or W-CDMA, right?

Re:For us non-US folk... (4, Informative)

VMaN (164134) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933763)

3G just means 3rd generation. So while W-CDMA is a 3rd generation network technology, it does not mean that all 3rd generation technology is W-CDMA.

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934781)

Yes it does. GSM is 2G. 3G and beyond is W-CDMA. GSM fanboys like to pretend that they have "GSM 3G", but that does not exist.

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934141)

Better known as UMTS. Never mind that the CDMA in US is CDMA2000. So while UMTS and CDMA2k shares the base layer encoding, the higher layers are very different. Also, CDMA2k is more in line with GSM. For instance, can CDMA2k handle data and voice at the same time? That is a problem it shares with GSM, but that UMTS does not have (originally there for the video call feature, but these days more used for allowing various data services while also handling calls).

Re:For us non-US folk... (5, Interesting)

rcoxdav (648172) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933681)

I know that CDMA is an older standard, however, from what I remember it has always had better voice quality and tower transfers than GSM.

The one big advantage of GSM is the use of SIM cards, and that simultaneous voice and data were possible. CDMA also has better spectral efficiency than TDMA used by GSM. Check out Wikipedia's [wikipedia.org] article on it and look at the efficiency of the latest CDMA vs GSM standard.

Don't act like the carriers stuck with CDMA to be dinosaurs. It actually was , at least for voice users, the better technology.

Re:For us non-US folk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38933801)

CDMA is far better in most of the US (area wise) however in the cities GSM could be better, and in hilly areas where lots of towers are needed to get full coverage GSM would allow for you to do that, the range of CDMA goes down the more devices you have, so if you live in an area without a lot of people, you get really good data/call quality with fewer towers. CDMA coverage in the midwest for example is almost 100% where gsm is far from it. CDMA is also far better than GSM at switching towers.

Each has it's advantage. I will not get a GSM provider with my current situation, however if I were to move to a large city and never leave it, I would probably go with GSM.

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934167)

I wonder if coverage is more a function of frequency than protocol. the CDMA2k in US use the 450MHz range, right? At least in Scandinavia that was originally used for NMT, and so was unavailable for use with GSM when it first launched. Since then there have been a CDMA2k push on the now available NMT band, but it is only really used for rural (and boat to shore) data connectivity.

Re:For us non-US folk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934195)

And more importantly, it has better range because it supports larger area cells. Not so useful in Europe, but very important for the US and Australia, where most 3G networks are W-CDMA based. When you have low population densities in large sections of the country it means you can have less towers covering the same area, or as deployed, a larger coverage area for the same number of towers.

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934757)

In Verizon and Sprint's business models, their use of CDMA means no SIMs. And at least for now, there aren't any GSM-specific hacks to be worried or annoyed about.

That Verizon doesn't support CDMA-specific hacks only means that they don't get a few carrier signals and the LBS features are somewhat stunted. Fine. Angry Birds doesn't need to know my location, phone list, etc.

SIM cards, in the USA, are not an advantage. In the bad old days, SIM cards held your contacts, and were a pain in the butt-- IN THE USA. These days, you backup to somebody's storage silo, get a different phone, and restore your stuff, although this is operating system-specific.There aren't any GSM device-density issues to deal with, and with CDMA, everyone's on the same frequency page.

IMHO, this is a who-cares? issue that has about zero effect. But it was nice to push a stick up the hornet's nest on a Sunday morning, just to see what was buzzing, and who had their facts straight.

Re:For us non-US folk... (2, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933791)

It's used in the US, where they are 20 years behind the rest of the world in mobile phones.

Yeah, US mobile phone companies like Apple, Motorola, RIM, and Palm are just decades behind European mobile phone companies, like Nokia, and... umm...

Come on, America, at least move onto GSM.

It's funny how the US takes so much crap for being incompatible, when really, the US is usually the first-mover, and it's the "rest of the world" that decides to develop something intentionally incompatible, for no good reason. Witness ATSC versus DVB.

Oh, and did I mention Vodaphone owns 45% of Verizon Wireless, which is the major CDMA carrier? If CDMA is a liability, then it's a British plot to keep the US down...

Re:For us non-US folk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38933825)

Yeah, US mobile phone companies like Apple, Motorola, RIM, and Palm are just decades behind European mobile phone companies, like Nokia, and... umm...

RIM's Canadian and Palm is dead (Rest in Peace Palm)...

Re:For us non-US folk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38933891)

He also forgot Sony-Ericsson and the fact that Shitorola has been irrelevant for ages.

Re:For us non-US folk... (2)

flibuste (523578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934037)

Your parent poster is right. Things are just "different", only in the US, because of the "why should I?" mentality. Also, your list of US companies supposedly ahead of the game is half moot: RIM is a Canadian company, Apple isn't involved in developing mobile technology - just integrating it, and Palm has never really took of.

Re:For us non-US folk... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934121)

> and it's the "rest of the world" that decides to develop something intentionally incompatible, for no good reason. Witness ATSC versus DVB.

Rubbish. On both counts.

GSM was in development in the late 1980s, by a range of European telecom companies, and was first deployed in 1991. CDMA was developed by one American company (Qualcomm), and was first deployed in 1995. American network operators picked CDMA partly because it's American, and partly because it was slightly better than GSM in rural areas, where you have large areas with very low population density. Cost cutting, basically - it allowed them to have better coverage while having fewer towers. Not a problem in Europe, though.

Australia had a CDMA network until fairly recently, mostly for rural areas. The operator killed it when they depolyed their 3G GSM-based network because the 3G version of GSM does not have that advantage. It's quite possible to replace a CDMA network with a 3G GSM one - after all, all the phones are by definition provided on contract, and you're generally providing new phones every few years anyway. It's just that no American network chose to do so.

If I had to guess, a lot of that would be because of SIM cards, and the fact that you can use pretty much any phone on a GSM network. I doubt they're preferring CDMA to prevent international roaming.

As for ATSC... It was in development first, yes, but only slightly. However, DVB systems were deployed long before equivalent ATSC systems. At best, it's a wash. You could argue that Europe should have adopted ATSC instead, but in practice DVB systems were in use before ATSC was even finalized.

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934207)

Motorola was going down the tube until they went all in with Android and manage to land the first Droid phone for Verizon. RIM, as others have pointed out, is Canadian, and seems to have shown up in Europe only in recent years. Palm did so so, but mostly thanks to picking up Handspring and going WinMobile (hello HTC). Only Apple really stands out, but then they basically leveraged their iPod/ITMS silo (and their media attention). Feature wise there was phones already on the market for a number of years that could do anything the iPhone could do when it showed. It was only really the touch interface that was anything new, and i suspect Nokia had passed on that because it is hard to operate such a interface at -20C (much easier in +20C).

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933933)

CDMA is voice only though, correct? Developers don't hardly touch the voice stuff. Even voice search goes over the data connection these days.

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934119)

Tell that to my CDMA 3G phone with unlimited data through Sprint. Specifically the Motorola XPRT, Sprint's version (and pretty much identical to) the Motorola Droid Pro, the best smartphone in existence.

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934139)

yea but you can't talk and surf at the same time. something that is possible on GSM.

you can't receive a text message with a link, and go to that link while getting voice directions for greater understanding.

Re:For us non-US folk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934285)

"the Motorola Droid Pro, the best smartphone in existence."

nope, not even close. Droid Razr destroys that antique phone hard.

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934525)

Maybe we should do that, but everyone using GSM needs to realize something: your protocol is hideously broken from a security point of view. You can find a lot of the details online, but the problem with something as old as GSM is that everyone wants backwards compatibility. With backwards compatibility comes the possibility of tricking brand new modern smartphones perform at the encryption level of early 1990s hardware--trivially broken. "Law enforcement" (equate to 'government spies') have used this technique often with fake cell towers, causing phones in a given area to use no encryption at all--while said phones merrily chirp away not telling you anything's going on with your encryption because that's not in the spec.

Oh, and if I recall correctly, your carrier has total control over the level of encryption used at all times, so you can't even set a "don't use anything below this level" kind of flag on your phone. Even Windows has that ability.

For all that, you're right that the US is 20 years behind in mobile phones. We're saddled with legacy carriers trying to legislate profits and enforce monopoly rent-seeking pricing, while at the same time offering almost no innovation. The innovation they do offer is almost totally useless, as in "look at our brand new smartphone that you can use to play Netflix videos on. Don't look at our data caps, speed throttling, and overage charges which make that feature absolutely useless, but we'll be sure to refer you to the contract you hastily signed with a stylus on the tiny little screen at the shop when you get a huge bill. Oh, and we won't ever publicize that we're so in bed with the police and we get so many wiretap requests from government spies that we set up private websites just for them to enter what they want--it's that busy, and those are just the 'legal' requests that we know about."

Re:For us non-US folk... (2, Informative)

yakatz (1176317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934709)

It's used in the US, where they are 20 years behind the rest of the world in mobile phones.

Come on, America, at least move onto GSM. Now that it's all being ripped out and replaced with 3G there's a lot of GSM hardware on the second-hand market. It's not even expensive.

But CDMA has at least one major advantage: When your phone rings, it does not destroy any recordings being made in the same room (the way a GSM cell phone does).

Why not support CDMA? (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933593)

Last I looked, it is Sprint & Verizon. AT&T & T-Mobile being GSM.

But this sounds strange - Google is just handing over Verizon's & Sprint's customer bases over to Apple, Microsoft and others? Why not just work w/ Qualcomm, and put in a more restrictive OSS license, and continue to support those devices, rather than abandon a good portion of the market, one of whom is the leader in 4G in the US?

Re:Why not support CDMA? (5, Informative)

jetole (1242490) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933841)

Google is just handing over Verizon's & Sprint's customer bases over to Apple, Microsoft and others?

Good Thing you added a question mark because this doesn't mean Google is handing anything over to anyone. Google and Carriers are still more then welcome to use CDMA technology all they like and are free to do anything they want with the phones as long as all the licensing requirements of all the software they use are met. Google removing CDMA from the developer pages is not the same thing as Google saying that the android license and therefor anyone using the android software is now restricted from using CDMA and it can no longer be used because that is not what it means. It means Google is having issues complying with certain licenses by posting the CDMA specs online and therefor they have simply taken it out of the open space where anyone in the world is now able to access it but carriers like Verizon and Sprint and Manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, LG, etc, etc will have no problem obtaining the resources and permissions to develop and implement the CDMA functionality and I'm willing to bet that Google will not only make it easy to load this functionality in a modular way which will ease integration but I also bet that will be aiding with the design and development to these companies to make sure it's done. Don't misinterpret Google taking CDMA from the open developer pages as meaning anything even close to saying Google is not going to allow CDMA on Android phones anymore because one example I can think of already is Sprint, a CDMA provider, has the contract to deploy Galaxy Nexus phones as soon as the exclusivity rights for Verizon finish. People shouldn't jump to conclusions so quickly based on a gross over simplification of what is actually being said without taken a moment to read it thoroughly and make an effort to understand the real implications of the actions. Hope this answers your question.

Re:Why not support CDMA? (0)

flibuste (523578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934045)

If I had mod points, I would hammer you with them.

Re:Why not support CDMA? (1)

jetole (1242490) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934619)

I think I have them but mostly haven't used them so I have to ask, is that good or bad?

Re:For us non-US folk... (2)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933595)

India has a CDMA network as well.

Re:For us non-US folk... (2)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933695)

The only 2 CDMA carriers are Reliance and Tata Indicom, but both offer GSM plans as well. In the 3G space (India is nowhere near 4G), Reliance promotes their GSM plans (their CDMA is still 2.5G), while Tata has stopped promoting Indicom, and promotes Tata DoCoMo instead, which is a GSM standard, but one in which Japan's DoCoMo has a share.

Re:For us non-US folk... (2)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933713)

Theres MTS also
And Tata Photon/Photon+ and Reliance data cards have CDMA and GSM variants, but its the CDMA variants that are actually affordable

Re:For us non-US folk... (3, Informative)

quenda (644621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933611)

How widespread is the use of CDMA in the first place?

That depends what you mean. The old 2G GSM is TDMA (time division multiple access), whereas the modern 3G UMTS used in most of the world is CDMA - Code division multiple access.
Fortunately TFA refers to a particular CDMA implementation used in the US (CDMA2000), and not the much more common UMTS version, or CDMA in general.

Re:For us non-US folk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38933767)

Yes and UMTS is based on GSM.

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934227)

It was developed by the same organization, made to be able to hand of to GSM (allowing for a transition period of both networks operating), and likely share some higher level stuff with GSM. But on the radio interface level i am not sure there is much in common.

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934865)

UMTS has more in common with CDMA than it does with GSM at the radio level... actually, the most common form of UMTS in use these days is WCDMA, which is being used basically everywhere (though on different frequencies in different parts of the world), and is for all intents and purposes the same as CDMA at the radio level except that it uses 5MHz bands instead of 1.25MHz bands. (there's a few other differences, but that's the big one)

Re:For us non-US folk... (2)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933703)

Its used in India for low budget high volume users
And for USB data cards

Re:For us non-US folk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38933761)

But the majority of carriers in India - Airtel, BSNL, Idea, Vodafone, Aircel, etc are all exclusively GSM. Only Reliance, Tata Indicom and MTS have CDMA offerings.

Re:For us non-US folk... (2)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933723)

CDMA had better coverage in Australia outside of metropolitan areas, and when it was turned off to free up spectrum for the 3G network it was a big step backwards for a lot of people. Either the situation has improved since then or the affected population has given up complaining about it. I'm pretty sure the last CDMA cell was turned off here a while back.

I'm always confused when people talk about GSM though, as i've heard 3G referred to as a GSM protocol but 3G is just an evolution of CDMA... I guess we're stuck with the terminology though.

Re:For us non-US folk... (2)

lazybeam (162300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933807)

And wasn't CDMA a step backwards from AMPS, which was turned off in 2000? Apparently.

The "3G" UMTS (and even 4G like LTE) networks use W-CDMA on the air interface, but talk GSM protocols. The CDMA ideas were much superior than TDMA as used by GSM, at a cost of more CPU computations required.

Re:For us non-US folk... (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934043)

And wasn't CDMA a step backwards from AMPS, which was turned off in 2000? Apparently.

GSM was a huge step backwards from AMPS in terms of coverage once you got out of the city, and the analogue network was kept on much longer for this reason. It's stretching my memory a bit but I think CDMA was introduced after that to fill the gap, and so was perceived as a step forward from GSM, even though it wasn't as good as AMPS.

Re:For us non-US folk... (5, Insightful)

Pembers (250842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934301)

GSM has a fixed maximum cell size - 20km radius at first, later extended to 35km. CDMA doesn't have a maximum. GSM does because it uses time division multiplexing - several phones can transmit and receive on the same frequency, and they take turns. The further from the tower your phone is, the longer the signal takes to travel back and forth, and there comes a point where your transmissions spill into the next slot, reducing call quality for whoever's using it. If you get to that distance from the tower, it will just drop the call. The maximum cell size is a tradeoff between how much equipment the network needs to serve a given area and how much spectrum it would have to use.

In densely-populated places like most of Europe, the maximum cell size isn't really an issue - there aren't many places where you can leave one settlement and travel 20km without entering another. Australia and North America, on the other hand, are much more spread out, and the number of GSM cells that would be needed to provide acceptable coverage to rural areas would be too expensive for the likely revenue from them.

good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38933559)

GSM is superior and it's a shame that so much of GSM is relegated to the inferior 1600mhz band.

Re:good (5, Interesting)

amck (34780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933613)

The GSM standards as originally developed were deliberately chosen to work on bands (900 MHz , IIRC) that in the US were assigned to the military. That is, to be initially incompatible and unusable in the US, so as to split the world into "US" and "rest", and give non-US developers a head start. It worked ...

Re:good (2)

geogob (569250) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933861)

I don't know about that. From a signal encoding and processing point of view, I've always seen CDMA mobile protocols superior over GSM protocols. The only major drawback I've seen to CDMA, and it's not a little one, is its lack of resilience when large group of people get together (events, shows, stadiums, etc.). The MTSO becomes quickly overloaded and instead of quality degradation, you start to have full service loss.

I'm sure there are many reason while in the end GSM is better and more widely implemented. Just like VHS was better than Beta. Perhaps GSM is cheaper, but that's just speculation on my part. What this news post clearly shows, is that there are license issues with CDMA, and that alone reminds me of the Beta vs. VHS debate.

Superiority is a very relative notion.

Re:good (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934569)

You're close. GSM won the worldwide competition for a few reasons, but technical superiority was not one of them.You can see that in the fact that UMTS as successor to GSM actually reuses a lot of stuff from CDMA.

1) GMS network architecture is a lot more simple, meaning you can set up the whole operating environment faster and cheaper
2) GSM is more robust when handling many handsets in the same area
3) GSM radio equipment was a lot cheaper, simply a) due to simpler technology, the individual base station controllers needed less power and b) because it was much more widespread in the early stages and manufactured in higher quantities (ironically, the major reason for that was actually that in the major cities, analog mobile phones in the US worked a lot better than in europe, so the pressure to quickly build up digital cell networks was a lot higher)

No more Sprint either (1)

psoriac (81188) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933565)

I guess this means Sprint, who has been pushing Android phones very aggressively for the past 3 years, is left out in the cold too?

Arm Twist Google Style (5, Interesting)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933569)

Sounds to me like the carriers and Google butted heads on some code, and this is Google putting the pressure on the carriers to open up parts of their software, but that is purely speculation on my part. I'm just curious how this is going to play out with Sprint's rollout of the LTE Google Nexus.

Re:Arm Twist Google Style (5, Insightful)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933603)

Would it be Google vs the carriers, or Google vs the chipset guys, like Qualcomm? B'cos that's where I'd see the most resistance to the thing being OSS - QCOM not wanting OSS drivers that might reveal their chipset software designs.

Re:Arm Twist Google Style (0)

JavaBear (9872) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933655)

Considering that telecom's are usually extremely picky about technologies, it is a bit baffling that they choose a standard that is essentially closed source (CDMA).

These are businesses that historically require insane up time and stability figures. 5 9's are not uncommon, allowing just 12 minutes of downtime per year. A bit of a problem if the system in question takes a hour to reboot :P

Re:Arm Twist Google Style (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934453)

QCOM not wanting OSS drivers that might reveal their chipset software designs.

Having dealt with Qualcomm before (back in 2005), that's what I thought as soon as I saw the headline, except that I don't think it matters to Qualcomm whether the drivers are FOSS or not. They're very reluctant to give any third party enough information to write their own drivers, preferring that everyone run their multi-megabyte binary blob instead. And it's not even about revealing their chipset designs; it's apparently about forcing you to use their entire chipset, rather than being able to mix & match with other manufacturers' components.

Qualcomm? Good riddance.

the cloud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38933581)

As of today, all of the documentation, source code, and firmware images pertaining to CDMA Android devices (including the Verizon Galaxy Nexus) have been removed.

And so when the service providers finally return us to the IBM '60s era of dumb terminals and mainframes, it will be without promises of information integrity or retention. For when you have a few high profile customers, it matters to please them. But when you have hundreds of millions of products to hire out to advertisers, the loss of ten thousand means little. Never mind that the Internet is a peer to peer network and availability has never required centralisation: just trust in Google to only provide you the information it and its partners think suitable.

The Galaxy Nexus will work just fine (5, Informative)

MisterMidi (1119653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933601)

The Galaxy Nexus will continue to work just fine on CDMA. For future models, well, that's another story... Google forces the industry to either open up their firmware or move on to GSM. Good thing, IMO.

Re:The Galaxy Nexus will work just fine (4, Informative)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934159)

False, Google is simply removing source code from the developer pages because surprise, surprise it didn't work anyway. CDMA as implemented in Android devices relies on a binary blob from the manufacturers. This means AOSP doesn't support CDMA because the code is incomplete.

The only thing that changes now is that people can stop complaining that the code doesn't work since it now doesn't exist. Carriers / Manufacturers will continue to work together to create binary drivers for CDMA, and anyone wishing to implement AOSP will need to hack at the binary driver to make it work.

Situation normal.

Re:The Galaxy Nexus will work just fine (1)

atriusofbricia (686672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934259)

The Galaxy Nexus will continue to work just fine on CDMA. For future models, well, that's another story...

Google forces the industry to either open up their firmware or move on to GSM. Good thing, IMO.

It's a good thing.... unless you bought a Galaxy Nexus in the US, and didn't pay a fortune to import a GSM (and slower) version... in which case Google just tossed us out in the cold stripping practically the entire reason for buying a GNEX away.

But otherwise, it's awesome.. or something....

So much for Droid? (-1, Troll)

jaygridley (1016588) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933605)

So if you want to actually use your Android phone in the US you will be screwed since only AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM and both of them have gaping holes in their networks??

There is still a GSM version avaliable in the USA (2)

ukoda (537183) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933629)

To answer the question "What does this mean for the Galaxy Nexus, which is only available as CDMA in the U.S.?". My understanding is there will still be the HSPA+ version, made for GSM networks, available in the USA, and that Google will continue to support it.

Pulled *developer* CDMA support only (5, Informative)

Namarrgon (105036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933645)

And only for some features [androidcommunity.com] . Consumer phones will of course still be fully supported, receive all updates etc.

AOSP builds from source have never had full telephony function for CDMA devices due to missing carrier binaries, so Google is moving to clarify this, and is no longer listing CDMA devices as fully supported for developers.

I love bubbly farts. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38933653)

Especially when they stink.

W-CDMA (UTMS) in Japan (5, Informative)

ad454 (325846) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933687)

In Japan, they also have W-CDMA (UMTS), but at least the phones there typically use uSIM cards, which just happen to be similar to GSM SIM cards.

I can take any unlocked phone that supports UMTS, and put in any uSIM card from any other the 3 major carriers (softbank, au, & docomo) and it will work.

However in the USA, CMDA based carriers refused to allow any type of uSIM support for their networks, since they want users to be locked down to their networks. Even if you paid the extra $$$ for an unlocked iPhone 4S, you cannot get it work on both Sprint and Verizon the networks. The iPhone unlock is only for GSM not CDMA in the USA. The same is also true for Android phones as well.

I am very happy to see Google finally stand up against the horrible CMDA situation in the USA. As previous commenters have stated, it would be nice if either CMDA went away, or they followed the example of Japan, and are required to have uSIM cards.

The goal should be to have every unlocked smart-phone unlocked and able to work with every carrier, but simply inserting a SIM/uSIM card. Personally I think it is horrible that smart-phones are not required to be unlocked, since these phones are typically not subsidized with 2-3 year contacts that covers the full cost of the phone many times over.

Re:W-CDMA (UTMS) in Japan (3, Insightful)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933749)

"since these phones are typically not subsidized with 2-3 year contacts that covers the full cost of the phone many times over"

The phones aren't subsidized to the consumer. If you come to AT&T with a fully unlocked phone, you get no discount from their monthly rate.

Same is true for Verizon and Sprint.

Re:W-CDMA (UTMS) in Japan (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934777)

"since these phones are typically not subsidized with 2-3 year contacts that covers the full cost of the phone many times over"

The phones aren't subsidized to the consumer. If you come to AT&T with a fully unlocked phone, you get no discount from their monthly rate.

You do (or at least, did) if it's not on AT&T's official smart phone list. I brought over my Nokia 5800 to AT&T and they put me on the unlimited data plan for feature phones instead of smart phones, so I had an unlimited data plan for $15/mo instead of the $30/mo my friends with iPhones were paying.

Errrrr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38933765)

GSM Firmwares are closed, exactly as CDMA is, why not pull support for it too...?

Re:Errrrr (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934249)

+1

The problem w/ SIM cards (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933805)

The problem that I've always had w/ SIM cards is that they have only a fraction of the capabilities of one's main phone. On the phone, if you are storing the different numbers of a person, as long as you are storing it in the phone memory, you can, under his/her name, store Main#, Home#, Work#, Cell# and Pager#, However, if you wanted to save something like that on a SIM, the SIM would take it down as 5 different numbers, and looking @ them, one wouldn't have a clue.

In between, I used to notice some stores carry flash memory cards w/ a SIM form factor - think Sandisk made them. What exactly were they - could one use them as SIMs, albeit w/ memory to do the things mentioned above? I notice that they seem to have disappeared from the market.

Anyway, having a SIM that one can switch b/w phones is a good thing, but if moving the well organized phone#s will be a pain, I honestly don't see the advantage. I wonder whether the RUIMs in CDMA phones get over this limitation, or are they still hamstrung by it? If this capability was there, then CDMA would genuinely be a better alternative to GSM. I do prefer CDMA myself, since the voice quality and reception is generally better, and I typically don't use phones to access the internet, nor do I think wireless modems are an economical way of surfing the internet, as opposed to Wi-Fi.

Re:The problem w/ SIM cards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38933897)

I think you are seeing this the wrong way around. WIth a SIM you can move you phone between networks (may need unlocking) by switching the SIM card.

The limitations on SIMs aren't really that big a bother with the newer handsets, sync'ing many details to memory cards, or cloud services.

Re:The problem w/ SIM cards (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38933937)

Storing contact info on the SIM is best treated as a secondary, legacy function. For any more complicated set of personal data you're better off exporting it in some standard-ish format your new phone can handle, or syncing it via some external service. Also, at least all the HTC Android phones I've seen seem to have no difficulty pulling the data from other devices via Bluetooth.

Being able to switch providers or phones by moving SIMs is worth even inputting the contact data manually, imo.

Re:The problem w/ SIM cards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38933947)

FYI, 2G SIMs don't support multiple numbers per contact but 3G USIMs do allow this. Having said that though, I've always preferred to store contacts to phone memory and sync them to a server somewhere rather than keep them on the USIM.

Re:The problem w/ SIM cards (1)

tresstatus (260408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934277)

The problem that I've always had w/ SIM cards is that they have only a fraction of the capabilities of one's main phone. On the phone, if you are storing the different numbers of a person, as long as you are storing it in the phone memory, you can, under his/her name, store Main#, Home#, Work#, Cell# and Pager#, However, if you wanted to save something like that on a SIM, the SIM would take it down as 5 different numbers, and looking @ them, one wouldn't have a clue.

In between, I used to notice some stores carry flash memory cards w/ a SIM form factor - think Sandisk made them. What exactly were they - could one use them as SIMs, albeit w/ memory to do the things mentioned above? I notice that they seem to have disappeared from the market.

Anyway, having a SIM that one can switch b/w phones is a good thing, but if moving the well organized phone#s will be a pain, I honestly don't see the advantage. I wonder whether the RUIMs in CDMA phones get over this limitation, or are they still hamstrung by it? If this capability was there, then CDMA would genuinely be a better alternative to GSM. I do prefer CDMA myself, since the voice quality and reception is generally better, and I typically don't use phones to access the internet, nor do I think wireless modems are an economical way of surfing the internet, as opposed to Wi-Fi.

i don't think that anyone with an android phone is storing their contacts on a sim card. sync your contacts through google sync. then you can change phones or even use the same google account on multiple phones without ever having to transfer any data on a sim card. the same thing is true and possible on iphones as well.

Two of the Best Given the Shaft? (2)

Kotoku (1531373) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933811)

This is a bit disappointing to me, or maybe I just don't see the point? I can't forsee the carriers opening up their network infrastructure, getting qualcomm to open up their chipsets, or a move to GSM for these major CDMA carriers any time soon. With these options not possible I don't know what the point of this is (feel free to enlighten me). In the mean time we see damage to the value of the Android platform on the two best networks for Android owners. 1) Sprint has been a major player in the Android ecosystem, one of the early adopters (right alongside T-Mobile) and having rolled out the most cutting edge hardware and largest bevy of phones ahead of the others. They are also the only partner network for Google Wallet in the US. 2) Verizon, while a much more closed network, offers the fastest and most widespread 4G LTE network. Android power users (with a little cash to burn) flock to Android phones on this network for blazing speeds on the go. A frequent techies commuter dream. On the other hand, we have T-Mobile who has been limping along with the (in comparison to the other networks) under powered variant of the GS2 and no plans for the Galaxy Nexus at this time. We also have AT&T who hasn't been doing too badly but does not roll out near as many Android devices as any of the other networks, has been rated worst in customer serivce, tends to focus on their iPhone sales, and has encountered frequent network capacity issues. Just doesn't make sense to me right now.

Re:Two of the Best Given the Shaft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38933931)

IMO opinion three were given the shaft. 3) Metropcs is continuing to grow (fast) and uses CDMA. They do piggyback Verizon in areas but that will likely diminish over time as they expand. I use an Android phone through them and love the deal. I would rant about how awesome the deal is, however I would end up sounding like an advertisement.

The point is openness (1)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934343)

Which do you think is stronger, the provider who keeps customers by locking them in or the provider who keeps customers by providing superior service? Which is the better customers, those who stay with you because they are trapped or those who stay with you because they like you?

I'd sue (0)

Boaz17 (1318183) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933817)

"For people who bought their Galaxy Nexus expecting a “pure Google” Android experience, this could be a very big disappointment."

If I had one. (Which I would if it was GSM) and this happened. I'd sue. Class action! As article said “pure Google” is part of the hefty price people pay for a Nexus.

The court should force Verizon to open those "what exactly are you hiding" libraries. Anything else is not a remedy for plain out right lying. Hey I give you an "open phone" which is not open.

It is not the first time Google is not doing their homework about Open-Source and getting cut with their pens down after the fact. What part of Open does Google need to get down their head? It takes one apple to rote the all sac.

do no evil
Boaz

Misleading title is misleading (5, Informative)

neokushan (932374) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933855)

Google isn't "Dropping" CDMA support. CDMA Android phones aren't going anywhere any time soon - they're just not supporting them as DEVELOPER devices. Due to issues with Custom ROMs not working as best they could (due to the proprietary components required), Google is basically saying that the CDMA Nexus phones are no better than any other non-nexus device when it comes to "official" developer support. They'll still exist, they'll still be sold, updated, etc. but they won't be classed as "Developer devices". That's it.

This isn't anything new, it was the same case with the Nexus S 4G and even the Xoom.

Re:Misleading title is misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934225)

How do you write and debug your software for these devices if you're a developer? Do you just write the code on some other device and hope for the best?

Re:Misleading title is misleading (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934369)

The same way as you write and debug software for computers. You program to the APIs of the target system, and have a few test devices that cover a range of processor speeds, amount of RAM, screen resolutions and platform versions.

The only special thing about the developer phones is that Google make sure they get the first updates to new versions of OS and APIs, and that Google release the complete source required to build the OS image

Re:Misleading title is misleading (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934803)

Similar to how you would write code for iOS or Windows, I suspect- neither of which give you the source code. You just write to the APIs and hope to catch everything else in testing.

lessons learned (1)

Marin3 (988561) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933857)

shows the US should be no different than anybody else

I'm confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38933867)

Didn't Andy Rubin say that Android was open? Or maybe he is just a big hypocrite and Android is not only a mediocre product compared to Meego and WebOS but also not open at all?

--
Tired of the Google assholes spying on you? Switch to DuckDuckGo [duckduckgo.com] today!

Why not pull out from GSM as well??? (0)

jkrise (535370) | more than 2 years ago | (#38933929)

I read in a Groklaw link y'day:

"Spark: The first free-software, Linux tablet is on its way"

"Open-source software and Linux, thanks to Android, is well represented on tablets. But, if you didnâ(TM)t want to deal with proprietary firmware and software, you were out of luck⦠until now. Aaron Seigo, one of the KDEâ(TM)s lead developers, and his team are just about ready to roll-out the first tablet based entirely on Linux and free software: The Spark.

For those of you who are a little puzzled right nowâ"âBut, isnâ(TM)t Android based on Linux??â let me start by explaining that yes, Android is Linux and open-source software. But, its implementations on various smartphones and tablets always uses some proprietary software, firmware, and/or shims to combine the code into a working device. Spark is different. - Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, ZDNet"

So I think if Google hates proprietary stuff on Android phones, it should remove developer support for all GSM phones that have it too. Talk of double standards.... or maybe Google is actually against Qualcomm, not CDMA?

What about my Samsung Galaxy S II (T989)? (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934153)

A few minutes of googling would probably bring me up to speed on the telecom acronyms, but I always thought AT&T and TMobile used GSM and all of the faster technologies were built on top of the GSM framework... EDGE, HSDPA and stuff like that. Similarly, I believed Sprint and Verizon use CDMA based technology and built subsequent enhancements on top of those.

Here's where my confusion comes in though. Looking at my phone, I go to "Menu" -> "Settings" -> "Wireless and network" -> "Mobile networks" -> "Network mode" and I see three options. One is GSM/WCDMA (Auto mode), another is GSM only and the last is WCDMA only. So now I'm curious about what's going on here.

I'm packing up for a road trip right now but I hope to come back here and someone who knows what they are talking about will spell it out in simple, understandable terms for me, because clearly, I don't know what I thought I knew.

Re:What about my Samsung Galaxy S II (T989)? (1)

21mhz (443080) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934295)

W-CDMA [wikipedia.org] is the air interface standard adopted by 3GPP for UMTS cellular networks based on, and backwards compatible with, GSM. It uses basically the same channel access method, called code division multiple access, as the incompatible standard named CDMA which got widely adopted in North America. The consortium responsible for CDMA went their own ways and developed CDMA2000, which is what CDMA carriers use as their 3G network technology.

So, I just paid $300... (1)

Phlow (2488880) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934377)

...for an Android device that I won't be able to use for development purposes moving forward? It was supposed to be the defacto phone for Google support. If this is true, I'm a little (more than) disappointed. Feels like a bait and switch from my perspective, even if technically it may not be.

Re:So, I just paid $300... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934507)

If you were going to develop Android - then yes, if you were going to develop for Android - then no.

They've pulled the stuff you need to build a custom ROM for CDMA handsets due to problems with licensing.

Android SDK works for any handsets.

Re:So, I just paid $300... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38934555)

Same here, I was intending on working on a custom 4.0 build, to deploy a "fleet" of Nexus here in the office. Guess that will not be happening now. We're stuck with Verizon so... Really, this isn't going to go over well. I'd pitched Android to replace our aging fleet of custom Symbian devices. Seems no more...

Re:So, I just paid $300... (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934855)

So pitch GSM, now.

udev? (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38934647)

Why does this sound like the decision to allow udev to separate the loadable module from the proprietary firmware? Sound to me like Google is doing nothing more than saying, "You have to pay the license fees to include the firmware for CDMA."

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