I always have to laugh when I read garbage printed about telecommunications when people don’t actually talk to those inside the industry first. Such as this TechCrunch article that basically talks about how Verizon’s network is slower, older, and would suffer the same capacity issues that AT&T did and that there wouldn’t be any other differences outside of the CDMA vs GSM.
Alas, my poor deluded journalist, you are so incorrect. There is a huge difference due to protocol and company culture. And you would know this if you were speaking to people within the telecommunications infrastructure industry (just as I have been working in it for the better half of a decade).
Let’s talk about the corporate culture for a second. Hypothetically, if Apple had chosen Sprint for their network, then I would say that they would have the same issues as AT&T has had with their iPhone coverage. Sprint in the past is known to overload their networks with other products. Boost was one of the first, but there are many others that also use the same network but branded under a different name. But Verizon has had management that has always been a stickler for building out for capacity. They keep building out their networks regardless of economy and the last I’ve heard, they’re perfectly capable of handling any sort of traffic that iPhone sales would generate without even blinking an eye.
While I have never worked on any of the Vegas markets myself, I do know that for events most carriers bring in mobile base station units to help accommodate the traffic for conventions, ball games, and the like. If AT&T couldn’t handle the traffic at CES, there’s a reason for it but I doubt that Verizon would be in the same boat there.
Second, you don’t need more cell sites to gain capacity. Capacity is driven by what we call in the industry: carriers. Each carrier can carry so much capacity and depending on the cell site, you can install so many carriers. It depends on the spectrum and how tall the tower itself is, and if you’re using that tower with other providers. But overall, capacity really is less about physical footprints.
Will data carriers be overloaded? Perhaps. I leave that in the capable hands of the Verizon capacity planners, which I would say have been working on this issue for the better part of a year or two. Will CDMA iPhones experience similar data problems as current GSM ones? Perhaps. I doubt it. If they do experience difficulties, they’ll be different due to the way the protocols handle data.
Now here’s the big, huge difference that CDMA will win over GSM. GSM (circa 1981) is older than CDMA (circa 1993). In my many years of on performance of cellular networks, two major problems plague GSM carriers that do not happen no where near as often on CDMA carriers. The first is ghosting. This is where you’ll be talking to someone and suddenly you’ll hear someone else’s conversation. At times you’ll basically be swapped, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. I’m not saying that it happens on AT&T itself, but that’s something that drives GSM consumers mad. The other is one of the channels dropping off. In CDMA, if you drop a call, you usually drop the entire call itself. Both forward and reverse channels disconnect. However, the competition has a tendency of dropping either channel while keeping the call up which basically provides you a call where one person can talk but can’t hear, or vice versa. That goes away when you switch to a CDMA iPhone.
Now the last part is: what phone do I carry? I personally carry a Droid. Are there GSM carriers I like? Sure. But I can’t stand buying into a network I do dislike just for the iPhone. It’s like driving a Mercedes that has had its engine replaced with a Yugo. It just won’t do. And now that Verizon is going to carry the iPhone, I have a feeling that it’s just about the time to make the switch.