So what is CDMA?

To understand the difference, it’s important to know a little about the two technologies. TDMA sends multiple transmissions over a single radio wave by taking advantage of natural pauses in speech. In CDMA, each call is assigned a code that’s scrambled over a wide-frequency spectrum and reconstructed at the receiving end. Multiple users can speak at the same time, allowing more conversations to be delivered on the same amount of spectrum.

Proving grounds.

Proving CDMA’s viability for cellular posed many challenges, but Qualcomm persisted. Early on, they invited PacTel to a mobile demonstration, proving that CDMA worked while driving their new ally around San Diego in a white van. In 1989, the two companies demonstrated their findings to the industry. Though a small system failure threatened to capsize the event, the technology came out on top.

The First Test

Jan 20, 2015


The Moment of Truth

Jan 21, 2015


From skeptics to believers.

Qualcomm spent years performing field trials, drive tests, and industry demonstrations to prove not only that CDMA would work, but that it would work anywhere. Jacobs’ team focused on innovating infrastructure, air interfaces, chipsets, and handsets. Their relentless efforts paid off: in 1993 CDMA was accepted as an industry standard. In 1995 it was rolled out commercially for the industry-wide migration to 2G, ultimately becoming the foundation of all 3G networks worldwide and helping define the latest 4G and 5G technologies.

Explore how Qualcomm invention transforms the world in which we live.