You’re sitting behind your desk at the office and in between receiving emails, text messages, and updates about your DVR schedule, you’ve received a push notification from your home security device alerting you that the garage was left open.

These multiple communications that are all coming to your smartphone are being sent via radio systems used in cell phones (or cellular communication modules). There are two primary ones in the U.S., Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Global System for Mobiles (GSM). 

But what are the differences between these communication channels, and what do they do for home security?

Explaining CDMA and GSM

Now, before you get too overwhelmed, GSM and CDMA will be explained as simply as possible: these are the two main technologies for mobile phones. This is why some phones won’t work on other carriers and vice versa, because the phones are operating on different cellular networks.

These are the two major radio systems used in cell phones. Sprint and Verizon operate under the CDMA model, and AT&T and T-Mobile operate under GSM. 


These are examples of multiple access channels used by various radio communication technologies. They are multiple access because many transmitters can send information at the same time over a single communication channel. Since many signals will work across a single transmission channel, this optimizes how much bandwidth can be used.

CDMA

Most of what is known as CDMA is actually owned by chip maker Qualcomm. 

CDMA has analog to digital conversion (ADC), and one of the earliest uses of CMA technology was the Global Positioning Systems, which most of you will know as GPS. 

Some CDMA Carriers do also have sim cards, but this is because those phones are operating via the 4G LTE network (another variable we won’t explore, but know that 4G LTE is a great network for your home security coverage as well).

GSM

GSM can be easier to use in terms of cell phone technology because these systems use sim cards that can be moved and removed from phones. Since these phones use sim cards it’s also easier to switch to a different cell phone provider if they use GSM technology. 

GSM is also the standard network system for most of the world. Otherwise, GSM is simply a different form of the same type of cell phone technology as CDMA. 

What This Means for Home Security

This brief, and hopefully not too confusing, explanation of cellular network systems is meant to give you a clearer understanding of what’s going on with your mobile devices on the technological side of things.

We also want to clear any worry whether or not certain carriers or certain cell phone devices will be better than others to keep the home monitored, because fortunately, neither GSM or CDMA is better than the other. The main difference is that one has sim cards and the other doesn’t. So, this does mean that if you want to switch phones with a CDMA carrier you’ll have to purchase a new phone entirely and can’t simply switch out the SIM cards. 

But in terms of performance, it’s all about the quality of the cell phone network, rather than which cellular module foundation is being used. Both of these modules accomplish the same goal and will each get the job done efficiently, just in slightly different ways. And like we mentioned in the beginning of the article, in terms of U.S. carriers it is an even split between who is using the two networks. (Sprint and Verizon are CDMA, while AT&T and T-Mobile are CDMA) 

These networks help lay the foundation for how smart device technology interacts with a home security systems and on which network. This also allows for connection of channels and using the network to send push alert notifications, updates, and other new and timely information. 

So when you’re at your next cell phone crossroads, to purchase or to switch carriers entirely, don’t worry about your home security efficiency changing.