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CDMA2000 ahead in Africa

The CDMA Development Group’s (CDG) announcement that CDMA2000 is the “technology of choice for 3G services” in Africa and the Middle East comes at an interesting time – especially for Africa.

Nigeria is about to roll out WCDMA and the GSM Association has been making much of its ‘3G for all’ initiative.

The CDG clearly feels it needs to make a point – and stake its own claim to a market where, arguably, wireless could eventually dominate not just voice but broadband data communications.

At the moment, the CDG’s comment is undoubtedly true. With the obvious exception of South Africa, a commercialised WCDMA cellular network with a decent-sized customer base is nowhere to be found in Africa. By contrast, CDMA2000 has millions of subscribers across a number of networks.

Having said that, cdmaOne had limited success in the mass-market cellular field, notably in Zambia where Africa’s first CDMA cellular network launched in 1997 and was replaced by a GSM network before the turn of the century.

So much of CDMA2000’s present-day success is in the limited mobility and wireless local loop fields (WLL). Devine Kofiloto, a principal analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media’s wireless research team noted last year that many operators across the continent are adopting CDMA for data services with data card offerings or modems to enable PC connectivity.

Small wonder that, as the CDG announcement puts it, the CDG, Africa CDMA Forum and Moroccan operator Wana are hosting conferences in North and South Africa to showcase the benefits of CDMA2000 – a reminder perhaps, that CDMA2000 is not going to roll over as WCDMA rolls out.

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