What is GSM ?

GSM stands for "Global System for Mobile Communications." It is a digital cellular technology used for mobile communication and is one of the most widely used standards for second-generation (2G) mobile networks. GSM was developed as a standard to replace the earlier analog cellular systems and has since become the foundation for the development of more advanced mobile network technologies.

The key features and components of GSM network system are as follows.
• GSM operates in several bands including 900 MHz and 1800 MHz in Europe, Asia and Africa as well as 850 MHz and 1900 MHz in North America.
• GSM uses digital technology to transmit voice and data which provides better call quality, improved security and more efficient use of spectrum.
• GSM follows global standard which makes devices and networks operate seamlessly in most of the countries of the world.
• GSM supports data services such as GPRS and EDGE to allow for mobile internet access and fast data communication.
• GSM supports total bandwidth of 25 MHz in 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands . In this 25 MHz BW, channels are spaced 200 KHz apart. Each carrier channel has a bandwidth of approx. 200 KHz.
• In GSM, Voice calls support 13 kbps per channel, GPRS supports data rates ranging from 20 Kbps to 40 kbps and EDGE supports data rates up to 384 kpbs.

10 uses of GSM

Following are the applications or uses of GSM network technology.
• Enables users to make and receive phone calls both locally and internationally.
• GSM introduced SMS which allows users to send and receive text messages.
• Allows users to roam seamlessly between different GSM networks and countries which ensures connectivity while traveling.
• GSM introduced SIM cards which store subscriber information and authentication keys. It allows users to switch phones easily.
• Supports data services (through GPRS/EDGE) which enables mobile internet access, email and web browsing.
• Enables location based services such as GPS and cell tower triangulation.
• GSM is used for M2M communication.
• GSM supports mobile banking and payment services.
• Users can access emergency services such as police, fire and medical assistance.
• GSM networks have been adapted to support IoT devices.
• GSM enabled phones can be used for social media platforms.

Advantages of GSM network

Following are more than 5 advantages of GSM network :
1. GSM techology has been matured since long and hence GSM mobile mobile phones and modems are widely available across the world.
2. It provides very cost effective products and solutions.
3. The GSM based networks (i.e. base stations) are deployed across the world and hence same mobile phone works across the globe. This leverages cost benefits as well as provides seamless wireless connectivity. This will help users avail data and voice services without any disruption. Hence international roaming is not a concern.
4. Advanced versions of GSM with higher number of antennas will provide high speed download and upload of data.
5. SAIC and DAIC techniques provide very high transmission quality. SAIC stands for Single Antenna Interference Cancellation technique while DAIC stands for Dual antenna interference cancellation.
6. It is easy to maintain GSM networks due to availability of large number of network engineers at affordable cost. This will help in revenue increase by the telecom operators.
7. The phone works based on SIM card and hence it is easy to change the different varieties of phones by users. It also allows to store user data and preferences.
8. The GSM signal does not have any deterioration inside the office and home premises and offers good voice call quality due to digital encoding and error correction techniques used.
9. It is easy to integrate GSM technology stack with other wireless technology based devices such as CDMA, LTE etc.
10. GSM incorporates encryption and authentication measures, making it more secure than analog systems.
11. GSM introduced SMS which became popular and cost effective way to communicate.
12. GSM specifications enable devices and networks from different vendors to work together without any technical concerns.
13. GSM technology is energy efficient, which is important for mobile devices with limited battery capacity.

Disadvantages of GSM network

Following are more than 5 disadvantages of GSM network :
1. Many of the GSM technologies are patented by Qualcomm and hence licenses need to be obtained from them.
2. In order to increase the coverage repeaters are required to be installed.
3. GSM provides limited data rate capability, for higher data rate, GSM advanced version devices are used.
4. GSM uses FTDMA access scheme and has limited bandwidth. Here multiple users share same bandwidth and hence will lead to interference when more number of users are using the GSM service. In order to avoid this situation, robust frequency correction algorithms are used in mobile phones and base stations.
5. GSM uses pulse based burst transmission technology and hence it interferes with certain electronics. Due to this fact airplanes, petrol bunks and hospitals prevent use of GSM based mobile or other gadgets.
6. Despite encryption, GSM networks are vulnerable to hacking and eavesdropping.
7. While it is widespread, GSM coverage may not be available in extremely remote or undeveloped areas and also areas served by other cellular technologies such as 4G LTE and 5G NR (New Radio).
8. The performance of GSM networks depend on quality and capacity of backhaul infrastructure, which may be inadequate in some regions.
9. Older GSM devices may not be compatible with newer networks and require users to upgrade their devices.

Conclusion : GSM network offers advantages such as global compatibility, wide coverage, good voice call quality, secure communication and support for text messaging and data services. However there are few disadvantages such as slower data speeds compared to newer technologies, network congestion in densely populated areas etc. Despite its disadvantages, GSM technology paved the way for the development of more advanced mobile communication standards and remains in use in many parts of the world for basic voice and text communication.


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