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CDMA vs. GSM: What's the Difference?

CDMA is short for Code Division Multiple Access. GSM is short for Global System for Mobile Communication. Both standards are for radio systems used in cell phones. GSM is the world's most commonly used cell phone standard. According to the GSM Association, "roughly 80% of the world uses GSM technology to make wireless calls". GSM offers more flexibility than CDMA devices for global use and as a result present less challenges to the cell phone carrier unlocking industry. STL SMARTphones provides instant and remote carrier unlocking services. However, only GSM carriers can be instantly unlocked in person.

This list of phone carriers may be incomplete. However, the majority of major United States' carriers are included in the listing.

CDMA Carriers

Major Carrier

Verizon Wireless


CDMA Mobile Virtual Network Operators

Alaska Communications

Appalachian Wireless

Blue Wireless

Bluegrass Cellular

Bravado Wireless

C Spire Wireless

Carolina West Wireless


Chariton Valley Wireless

Chat Mobility

Choice Wireless

Clear Talk

Copper Valley Telecom

Custer Telephone Cooperative

ETC (Enhanced Telecommunication Corporation)

GCI Wireless (maintains a CDMA and GSM network; contact provider for more information)

Illinois Valley Cellular

Inland Cellular

Mid-Rivers Communications

Mobi PCS

MTA Solutions


Nex-Tech Wireless



Pioneer Cellular

Silver Star Communications


Sprocket Wireless

STRATA Networks

Thumb Cellular

United Wireless

U.S. Cellular

Verizon Wireless

Virgin Mobile USA

GSM Carriers



GSM Mobile Virtual Network Operators



Big Sky Mobile

Cellular One Nation

Cordova Wireless

Cricket Wireless

DTC Wireless

GCI Wireless (maintains a GSM and CDMA network; contact provider for more information)

Indigo Wireless

Pine Cellular

Plateau Wireless


Union Wireless

West Central Wireless


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