|GSM in India – A way forward?|
Almost two decades after the first GSM networks began rollout of their commercial services, the world has seen an unprecedented growth and acceptance of this technology, which has baffled the most optimistic of telecom industry analysts. GSM or Global System for Mobile communication is the technology dominantly used for mobile telephony that offers high quality voice services as well as text messaging popularly known as SMS or short messaging services.
GSM is the successful successor of the first generation analog systems and is a feature rich digital cellular system that enables a plethora of services like voice services, data services, messaging services as well as group calls. GSM, being a cellular technology utilises the concept of connecting a mobile device to another by searching for cells in the immediate vicinity. The use of frequency modulators reduces the interference from neighbouring channels commendably well. GSM utilises TDMA method with eight burst periods grouped per TDMA frame.
First started as a network to optimise full duplex voice telephony, in a span of twenty years, GSM has clearly emerged a winner by capturing 82 percent of the world market as compared to 18 percent by CDMA. GSM has further evolved into the third generation UMTS networks and now into 4G LTE technology, which is garnering quite an interest in the telecom industry. As per the reports, there are approximately 850 GSM operators worldwide, catering to more than 4.2 billion subscribers and is available in almost 212 countries. The biggest advantage of this huge network is that users can continue to use their mobile devices even outside the country while travelling.
One of the key features of a GSM is the use of SIMs or Subscriber Identity Module, which is a detachable smartcard that contains subscribers' information as well as phone book. SIM, which provides personal mobility, has found wide acceptance because of its flexibility and the ease with which it can be used. One can hardly find a mobile without SIM cards in the market presently. Other features include call barring, call forwarding, number identification, multi-party service, closed user group etc. Since the GSM was designed with moderate level of security in mind, the security model offers confidentiality and some form of authentication but has only limited authorization capabilities and is vulnerable to malware, legal interception and eaves dropping.
In India, GSM subscriber base crossed 556.68 million in January 2011. While Hutch, Bharti and BSNL are on GSM network, Reliance and Tata Telecom are on the CDMA network. The fourth generation GSM technology called as LTE might put an end of the twenty year long CDMA and GSM war since it promises co-existence with both the standards. It looks like GSM is here to stay for a long, long time to come!