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Time-Division Multiple Access

Overview#

Time-Division Multiple Access (TDMA) is a channel access method for shared-medium networks.

Time-Division Multiple Access allows several users to share the same frequency channel by dividing the signal into different time slots.

The users transmit in rapid succession, one after the other, each using its own time slot. This allows multiple stations to share the same transmission medium (e.g. radio frequency channel) while using only a part of its channel capacity.

Time-Division Multiple Access is used in the digital 2G Mobile Network such as Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), IS-136, Personal Digital Cellular (PDC) and iDEN, and in the Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) standard for portable phones.

Time-Division Multiple Access is also used extensively in satellite systems, combat-net radio systems, and PON networks for upstream traffic from premises to the operator.

Time-Division Multiple Access frame structure showing a data stream divided into frames and those frames divided into time slots

Time-Division Multiple Access is a type of Time-Division Multiplex, with the special point that instead of having one transmitter connected to one receiver, there are multiple transmitters. In the case of the uplink from a Mobile Device to a base station this becomes particularly difficult because the Mobile Device can move around and vary the timing advance required to make its transmission match the gap in transmission from its peers.

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