Global System for Mobile
Global System for Mobile (GSM)
GSM (Global System for Mobile communications: originally from GroupeSpécial Mobile) is the most popular standard for mobile phones in the world. Its promoter, the GSM Association, estimates that 80% of the global mobile market uses the standard. GSM is used by over 3 billion people across more than 212 countries and territories. Its ubiquity makes international roaming very common between mobile phone operators, enabling subscribers to use their phones in many parts of the world. GSM differs from its predecessors in that both signaling and speech channels are digital, and thus is considered a second generation (2G) mobile phone system. This means that building data communication into the system will be easy. GSM EDGE is a 3G version of the protocol.
The ubiquity of the GSM standard has been an advantage to both the consumers (who benefit from the ability to roam and switch carriers without switching phones) and also to the network operators (who can choose equipment from any of the many vendors implementing GSM). GSM also pioneered a low-cost (to the network carrier) alternative to voice calls, the short message service (SMS, also called “text messaging”), which is now supported on other mobile standards as well. Another advantage is that the standard includes one worldwide emergency telephone number, 112. This makes it easier for international travelers to connect to emergency services without knowing the local emergency number.
Newer versions of the standard were backward-compatible with the original GSM phones. For example, Release ’97 of the standard added packet data capabilities, by means of General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). Release ’99 introduced higher speed data transmission using Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE).