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The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) (formerly Groupe Special Mobile) is a

[p]opular standard for mobile phones and networks. Ubiquity of GSM standard makes international roaming very common between mobile phone operators, enabling subscribers to use their phones in many parts of the world.[1]
a combination TDMA/FDMA cellular radio system that is the current digital standard in Europe.[2]
[a]n ETSI standard describing the protocols for 2G digital cellular networks used by mobile phones. First deployed in 1991, it has become the default global standard for mobile communications.[3]


GSM is used worldwide but was designed in Europe, primarily by Ericsson and Nokia. Cingular and T-Mobile operate nationwide networks in the United States. GSM uses a TDMA air interface. GSM is intended to replace existing analog cellular telephone services. GSM allows systems in different countries to interoperate, permitting consumers to use their cellphones anywhere in Europe.

A packet-switching enhancement to GSM wireless networks called General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) was standardized to improve the transmission of data. The next generation of GSM, commonly referred to as the third generation or 3G, is known as Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) and involves enhancing GSM networks with a Wideband CDMA (W-CDMA) air interface.


  1. Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard Glossary, Abbreviations and Acronyms (full-text).
  2. The Evolution of Untethered Communications, at 185.
  3. Licensing Terms of Standard Essential Patents: A Comprehensive Analysis of Cases, at 6-7.