It was coming. I have been proved wrong on very few occassions (a fact that I am proud of) and one of them was about CDMA. CDMA is an acronym for Code Division Multiple Access. This was promised to be more lucrative for the telecom service provider as it enabled them for a quicker roll out. However, the patent owner Quallcom earned a revenue from every sale of the handset making the quicker roll out far more expensive as compared to GSM.
The recent shift of Reliance and Tatas towards GSM signals a “victory” for the spin doctors of the GSM lobby. With further and incremental improvements in GSM, the so called, 3G technology promises better data transfers which was presumed to be THE advantage of CDMA over it’s GSM counterparts. Rightly so. I have seen streaming video on my old trusty Samsumg Reliance handset which was unheard off for GSM. They had a dedicated portal for the colour handsets and as early as 2003/04 it was a ‘status symbol’. They cost a cool 25k for a brand new handset.
Much has changed since then. I have opposed CDMA on the grounds that expensive royalty payments could be avoided by shifting to “open source” GSM or develop an indigenous mobile platform on lines of CDMA. The telecom companies could have easily developed a system for mutual use. The differentiation factor could have been the service levels or the value added services et al. Since we are a nation of bumbling morons, this did not happen.
Many eyebrows were raised at the way Reliance and Tatas were asked to pay up money for the new licences. The GSM lobby cried foul (rightly so for the first time) at the way these companies have been favourited. Reliance had even set up shell companies like Cheetah Telecom (can’t they think of something better?) to buy out the spectrum and hence scale up their valuation with the scarce resource.
Given the mess in this sector, it is obvious that Department of Telecom is going to play God for obvious reasons. The gold rush for the spectrum is still on and not surprisingly the GSM lobby is themselves to be blamed for. They had opposed the auctioning of spectrum when Ratan uncle had proposed this. The present mess is for all us to see.
Hence this is indeed a matter of speculation as to how this would sort itself out. We are all there to see the bloody circus out from the ring.