What is GSM/WCDMA and should I leave my settings like this or go GSM only?

David Jarratt February 27, 2013

On my Galaxy S3 my Cellular Network mode has 3 options Viz:- GSM only,WCDMA only and GSM/WCDMA
(Auto only) Not sure which to select as I don’t know what WCDMA is? Can you assist please. I’m in South Africa on a contract with my provider (CellC)

  1. Ramesh kumar agrawal
    September 26, 2014 at 8:21 am

    When WCDMA mode in my phone...the incomming call could't receive ...I don't think this disturbance is for WCDMA mode.When I change it to GSM/WCDMA then my phone workd normally
    For what interference I am getting such problem....pls make me good advise for this prblem.....ok

  2. Ramandeep
    February 28, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    GSM means 2G and WCDMA means 3G. That's all.

    • kian
      July 6, 2013 at 11:54 pm

      THANK YOU !!!

    • gandie
      July 16, 2013 at 8:22 am

      Then why is it that steady blue light on my mtn usb modem delivers very slow internet?

  3. Imesh Chandrasiri
    February 27, 2013 at 10:23 am

    In a nutshell, GSM - 2G mobile carrier standard & WCDMA - 3G mobile carrier standard

    GSM - uses less power & has limited speed on DATA. ( around 144KBps )
    WCDMA - uses more power & has a good speed on DATA ( around 3MBps )

    Choice : Depends on your requirement

    For more speed on DATA connection : select WCDMA only mode
    For more battery time : select GSM only mode

    WCDMA preferred mode : This mode is for carriers who have limited WCDMA coverage. if there is adequate WCDMA signal the device will switch to WCDMA & if there is no WCDMA signal the device will automatically fallback to GSM. I have less knowledge about this mode but I think it might be better to chose from the above two modes.

    • vikram
      July 3, 2013 at 6:59 am

      while using in GSM only option i am unable to get incoming calls when internet is in usage

    • Dimal C
      July 3, 2013 at 10:54 am

      I also had this problem when I was using a w20i. what I did was when I wanted to browse I used WCDMA and used GSM in normal mode!

  4. ha14
    February 27, 2013 at 10:03 am

    WCDMA (Wide Band Code Division Multiple Access) or UMTS (Universal Mobile Telephone System) - this standard has been developed to accept higher rates up to 2 Mbps (to 2 Mbps (local area access) or 384 Kbps (wide area access)) allowing to surf the net, use the videophone, download video...WCDMA is a third-generation (3G) mobile wireless technology.

    To obtain higher speeds, HSDPA (high speed downlink packet access) was introduced in version 5 of the WCDMA (3GPP). HSDPA allows data rates up to 10 Mbps (and 20 Mbps for MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output)).

    GSM/WCDMA (WCDMA preferred) - The GSM phone can use both 2G and 3G data communication and when signal strength is low 3G is favored more.

    GSM only - The GSM phone use only 2G data communication. When the 2G signal is too low you get nothing.

    WCDMA only - The GSM phone use only 3G data communication. When the 3G signal is too low you get nothing.

    • Chubby
      May 7, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      I am about to buy a copy of Samsung Galaxy S3 but I am troubled with this Network mode. I work near a telecom cell(tower) which supports 3G for sure. Funny once I switch a network mode to either GSM/WCDMA (auto mode) or WCDMA Only mode, it returns me to GSM Only mode. Is this a copy problem or there is technical way to fix it?

  5. Junil Maharjan
    February 27, 2013 at 6:19 am

    WCDMA is the standard that most GSM carriers moved to when upgrading to 3G. Parts of the WCDMA standard are based on GSM technology. WCDMA networks are designed to integrate with GSM networks at certain levels. Most WCDMA phones include GSM as well, for backward compatibility. So you can leave it as it is.

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