Will CDMA Ever be Able to Compete With GSM in Pakistan?

instaterminationCDMA has been a failure in Pakistan, one might have his reasons, but this is not a technological fault. CDMA has not only sustained in West against its rival standards but has gone ahead to return handy profits.

Problem in Pakistan proceeds from somewhere else. There might have been a political reason attached to it, but the final equation suggests that CDMA is a story of gone days now.

A telecom prodigy of our country currently working in Saudi Arabia once shared in following words:

WLL players failed to make business in Pakistan not because they were cash strapped; it was because soft handovers were not allowed by PTA. Needless to say, CDMA performs pathetically when soft handovers are disabled in it, but of course this was what the leading cellular operator of Pakistan wanted.

Despite the continual visits of delegates from Qualcomm & else, PTA stood by its stand, ensuring Mobilink a competition free market.”

I would like to argue that CDMA, technically, is better than GSM. But a pile of electronic boards, antennas and cables cannot guarantee connectivity; its marketing, sales, support and education does. There has been a monopoly of GSM players which has been the obstacle for CDMA operators to thrive coupled with their incompetency to succeed.

Here I shall share a word from another fellow telecom engineer who while discussing this topic astutely wrote:

Only limited number of CDMA ME’s were introduced, and changing them wasn’t possible and they were not fancy enough to attract general public at large.

Marketing regarding services: The general perception of public at large was that it’s inferior to GSM. This is probably why Paktel had to shift to GSM technology, despite having country wide CDMA network.

Absence of a giant: No big foreign operator in CDMA as compared to GSM.

Instaphone was the only mainstream CDMA services provider before its license was suspended by PTA in 2011. It implemented the D-AMPS technology (Digital-Advanced Mobile Phone System) and at the time of suspension, had 0.32 million subscribers.

PTA had canceled Instaphone’s license due to non-payment of dues and was later on put for auction along with 3G licenses, in March 2012. However, nothing went through and auction of licenses was delayed.

There are slight chances that anyone would be interested in the auction of CDMA license, for reasons mentioned above.

  • CDMA was only allowed for Home service which is call Wireless local loop while GSM was allowed for full mobility & roaming service. VPTCL has done a good job in this area while private companies like world call and GoCDMA trapped in many domestic issue and one of them was not enough money to do it right.


  • USA’s largest network (Verizon) is CDMA, and is doing a bloody good job with it…

    However, here in Australia CDMA slowly dwindled and was finally closed in 2008.

    • Verizon is going to shift towards total GSM when it completes its rollout of lte in mid 2013 .Right now its CDMA for 3g services and GSM for LTE.

      So yeah CDMA is dead for now in the future. How will you have LTE on CDMA?

      • Maybe the author of the post needs to consider this as well CDMA is only till 3G .. after that the operator will have to shift towards GSM for LTE
        CDMA is dead for now. As soon as most of the world moves towards LTE with in the next 3 to 4 years then there won’t be any CDMA sets made only GSM cause that is the majority!

  • jub gsm chal rahi hai and bilkul set chal rahi hai tow kia zaroorat hia zaberdasti cdma main ghusnay ka . and you cant compare gsm with cdma.
    and jitney zaida gsm mobile phones hain cdma us k half bhi nahi hain .
    zaberdasti main keeray kerni wali bat hia.

  • CDMA is awesome and wonderful as compare to GSM. Voice quality can not be matched. CDMA gives crystal clear voice even with 1 signal where as GSM signals are unable to transport voice properly even if u have 2 signals (assuming a phones gives 4 signal indicator as full). I still believe there is huge potential in Pakistan for CDMA if implemented properly. as far as mobile handsets are concerned, every flagship or a modern smart phone of any company is available in both flavors. Whether its sgs3 or htc one series or any other even iphone is available. So i agree its the political corruption which leaves gsm operators with competition free market.

  • As far as I know, cellular mobile licenses (the ones with soft handovers and roaming etc.) were technology neutral. So if the operators chose GSM, it was due to GSM’s merit and commercial viability. As in the past, even now the governments should not have anything to do with choice of technology. Leave that to the professional operators who have to run these.

  • Instaphone was TDMA, wasn’t it? GO was a CDMA operator and it lost thanks to Telecard’s monkey business.

  • According to my point of view i thnk , WE SHUD HAV CDMA OPERATORS IN OUR MARKET SO DAT COMPETITION environment exit for the betterment of the services moreover , gsm operator monoply will vannishes which result in benefits of the subscribers .. . !!!

  • GSM was and is used by majority of operators and subscribers worldwide. Hence we have enjoyed the cheapest handsets (economies of scale) and ability to take our handsets around the world, and import the cheapest handsets. So in hindsight it seems not so bad that we became a GSM-only country. However political interference in natural market competition is always bad. But even if the market was allowed to operate freely, I think GSM would still have won. CDMA isn’t for poor countries and low ARPU markets; this I’m saying on basis of actual facts on the ground. So no use crying what could or couldn’t have been, time to call for this incompetent government to do something about 3G and 4G.

  • U can see the example, cdma In India..
    3 big gaints Reliance,Tata,MTS with pan India roaming licence and millions of users… with positive feedbacks
    CDMA has better voice clarity, u can talk even while traveling in satabdi train with 210km/hr speed…
    Pakistan has failed in every aspect…whether it’s technology, human rights, living standard,gdp, good relations with neighbours, or image in the world.
    Pakistan is progressing only in nourishing terrorism and watching animal porn ( plz check Google to listen your story)
    Pakistan is the 8th most dangerous place to live and soon it will be number one.
    Pakistan is busy in manufacturing osama bin laden’s sons to transport them throughout the world…

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