What is a Generic Access Network?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2019
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The Generic Access Network is the general name for the overall wireless communications protocols that allow mobile devices to connect and interact with other types of communication devices. It is the current structure of the Generic Access Network that makes it possible for persons using cell phones to place and receive telephone calls from persons using land lines. At present, the network makes connections with not only local area networks (LAN) but also wide area networks (WAN).

In recent years, the functionality of the Generic Access Network has been enhanced to include connection options beyond audio connectivity. Today, the network can also support data and multimedia transmissions as well. This has been helpful for many people who make extensive use of their handheld devices during the working day. Thanks to these advances with a Generic Access Network, it is now possible to attend and interact on a web conference using a handheld device, with the same degree of ease as attending an audio conference call.


Part of the genius of the Generic Access Network has to do with the enhanced switching and routing components that allow connectivity to take place. Seamless roaming that allows the user to connect with a network and make the contact is so efficient today that the user can connect with persons all over the world with the same ease as making a simple call from a wired phone. The same is true with receiving and sending multimedia, in that the process is no more complicated for the end user than downloading and viewing a file while sitting at a desktop computer.

Prior to 2005, the Generic Access Network was known as Unlicensed Mobile Access, or UMA. However, as the function began to move into connections allowing more types of data to be shared, it was generally determined that a broader name for this type of telecommunications system was needed. Today, the latest technology connected with the Generic Access Network is changing the structure of cell phones. One key difference is the need to have two transceivers in each unit, with one transceiver handling conventional audio service and the other covering Wi-Fi and more advanced applications.


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