GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications: originally from Groupe Spécial Mobile) is the most popular standard for mobile telephony systems in the world. The GSM Association, its promoting industry trade organization of mobile phone carriers and manufacturers, estimates that 80% of the global mobile market uses the standard.GSM is used by over 3 billion people across more than 212 countries and territories. Its ubiquity enables international roaming arrangements between mobile phone operators, providing subscribers the use of their phones in many parts of the world. GSM differs from its predecessor technologies in that both signaling and speech channels are digital, and thus GSM is considered a second generation (2G) mobile phone system. This also facilitates the wide-spread implementation of data communication applications into the system.
The ubiquity of implementation of the GSM standard has been an advantage to both consumers, who may benefit from the ability to roam and switch carriers without replacing phones, and also to network operators, who can choose equipment from many GSM equipment vendors. GSM also pioneered low-cost implementation of the short message service (SMS), also called text messaging, which has since been supported on other mobile phone standards as well. The standard includes a worldwide emergency telephone number feature (112).
Newer versions of the standard were backward-compatible with the original GSM system. For example, Release '97 of the standard added packet data capabilities by means of General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). Release '99 introduced higher speed data transmission using Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE).
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