CodeÂ DivisionÂ MultipleÂ Access (CDMA) was used first in the Second World War for jarring transmissions. Since 1995 CDMA systems have been in commercial use. The technology was developed by Qualcomm and became the seed that aided Qualcomm engineers to come up with innovations such as Soft Handoff and fast power control, making CDMA technology not only efficient but also practical for terrestrial cellular communication. In Pakistan CDMA was introduced in 2004 when PTA announced for the auction for four frequency ranges: 450 MHz, 479 MHz, 1900 MHz, and 3.5 GHz.
However, the introduction of CDMA faced great hostilities from the GSM lobby who considered this technology as a competitor rather than advancement in the tech sector.First things first, CDMA was NOT introduced to replace GSM rather it was deployed mainly as an alternative to fixed line, in other words the copper line. The self-enforced war of GSM and CDMA did more harm than good to the Pakistani tech sector. WLL operators were restricted to single BTS , a limited number of end user terminals and were also denied RUIMS.
To add up to these setbacks was the heavy taxes that were imposed on the WLL industry accounting for 38%-40% taxes.Not only this, the licensing cost charged if not equaled exceeded that paid by the mobile operators.In addition to that, WLL operators were auctioned frequencies in only 14 regions For example, Worldcall Telecom Ltd. won frequencies in all 14 regions, but in Karachi it received the frequencies only in 450 MHz, in 10 regions only in 479 MHz, in 10 other regions only in 1900 MHz, and in 9 regions only in 3.5 GHz. The result of this partiality was that not only were the WLL operators unable to recover licensing cost but also did not receive any substantial growth resulting in some even failing to launch or being forced to shut. The cherry on top was that as the WLL operators were allotted limited spectrum growth, they were not able to provide optimum services to the customers failing to fulfill additional voice and data needs.
The industry must realize the worth of CDMA technology. With 475 million customerâ€™s world wide, CDMA technology is undoubtedly a breakthrough ignored in Pakistan. Looking in to a future of 3G technology, CDMA is the preferred technology for the third generation in which it uses EV-DO and EV-DV. So what steps must be taken by the industry to promote CDMA? One positive step needs to be taken by the government to remove the restriction on mobility which will allow CDMA operators to flourish in the market reaching their full potential.