Mobile Network Technologies: iDEN, CDMA, and LTE
Before we delve into the question of “What happened to Nextel?” let’s immerse ourselves in the realm of telephone communication technologies. In our ever-evolving reality, understanding the fundamental technologies that underpin our mobile devices plays a pivotal role. This review constitutes an in-depth exploration of three crucial mobile network technologies: iDEN, CDMA, and LTE.
Each of these systems has had a significant impact on the ways we connect and exchange information. Let’s explore the principles and differences between these three calling systems:
- iDEN (Integrated Digital Enhanced Network). Principle: iDEN was Nextel’s proprietary network technology based on time-division multiple access (TDMA) and frequency-division multiple access (FDMA) principles. It allowed for instantaneous push-to-talk (PTT) communication, similar to walkie-talkies. iDEN phones had dedicated frequencies for PTT, ensuring fast and direct communication between users.
- CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access). Principle: CDMA, used by Sprint, is based on spread-spectrum technology. Unlike iDEN, it employs a digital spread-spectrum modulation technique, where multiple users share the same frequency band simultaneously. CDMA assigns a unique code to each user’s signal, allowing them to transmit simultaneously without interference. CDMA does not inherently support instant PTT communication, and efforts to replicate PTT functionality on this network were not as seamless as on iDEN.
- LTE (Long-Term Evolution). Principle: LTE is based on orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA) and multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) technologies. It is a 4G wireless communication standard designed for high-speed data transmission. Unlike iDEN and CDMA, LTE was primarily developed for data-centric applications, offering faster internet access and multimedia services. It uses a packet-switched network architecture optimized for data transmission, making it less suitable for instant PTT communication.
In summary, iDEN was tailored for instantaneous PTT communication, providing quick and direct connections. CDMA, used by Sprint after the merger, was more data-oriented and less suitable for PTT, leading to the loss of this feature for some former Nextel users. LTE, on the other hand, represented a leap forward in terms of data speed and capacity but was not optimized for the traditional PTT functionality of older network technologies like iDEN. The differences in their underlying principles determined their suitability for various types of mobile communication.