Division Multiple Access (TDMA)
TDMA, or Time Division
Multiple Access was one of the first cell phone digital standards available in
the United States. It was the first successor to the original AMPS analog service
that was popular throughout the country, and was in popular service from the early-mid
1990's up until roughly 2003 when the last of the TDMA carriers, Cingular and
AT&T, switched to the GSM digital standard.
TDMA was a significant
leap over the analog wireless service that was in place at the time, and it's
chief benefit for carriers was that it used the available wireless spectrum much
more efficiently than analog, allowing more phone calls to go through simultaneously.
An additional benefit to carriers was that it virtually eliminated the criminal
cell phone cloning that was popular at the time by encrypting the signal it's
The primary benefit for wireless users of the era was
dramatically increased call quality over the scratchy, frequently garbled or "under
water" sounds that analog users had become accustomed to. All manufacturers
produced TDMA handsets during this period of time, but Nokia's ubiquitous model
5165 is probably the most popular example of TDMA technology.TDMA was replaced
by GSM to permit the use of advanced, data intensive features such as text messaging
and picture messaging, and to allow an even more efficient use of bandwidth.
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