What are the major cellular networks?

Many consumers think of their cellular providers when they hear the term “cellular network.” However, your cellular provider, such as Sprint or Verizon, is a cellular provider (or carrier) and not a cellular network.

Cellular providers utilize cellular networks to provide you with service. The two major cellular networks are:

  • CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) – uses network-based verification so you are not able to switch phones without carrier permission
  • GSM (Global System for Mobile) – features removable SIM cards that make it easy to switch to any phone that works on a GSM network

Some cellular providers use the same cellular networks. For instance, Sprint and Verizon both use CDMA networks, where AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM. Most other countries outside of the U.S. use GSM.

LTE uses a SIM card, so even phones on a CDMA network may now have SIM cards.