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HSPA Acceleration: HSPA+ at 21, 28, 42 and Now 84 Mbps

2/10/10 - HSPA is on adrenaline; network deployments of HSPA+ are rapidly increasing and throughput speeds are hitting new high levels. 3G Americas, a wireless industry trade association representing the GSM family of technologies including LTE, reports that 42 of the 303 HSPA operators worldwide have upgraded their networks to HSPA+ . HSPA technology has received widescale support from leading manufacturers; one vendor recently announced plans to showcase live demonstrations of HSPA+ at peak theoretical throughput rates of 84 Mbps at the upcoming 2010 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

"3G Americas has been at the forefront of supporting HSPA+ for years; our members recognized early on the clear advantages of leveraging HSPA investments with new features and techniques that could provide greater speed and efficiency," said Chris Pearson, president of 3G Americas. "We are encouraged by the tremendous efforts made by 3GPP in researching and developing the standards so successfully and it is gratifying to see HSPA+ continue its commercial deployment success."

In February 2009, Telstra in Australia launched the first 3GPP Release 7 HSPA+ network, which utilized the 850 MHz frequency-band and offered data cards. One month later, mobilkom Austria launched HSPA+ in the 2100 MHz band; both operators offered peak theoretical downlink speeds of 21 Mbps. HSPA+ networks are sometimes deployed with MIMO antenna systems providing yet another upgrade in performance benefits. In July 2009, TIM Italy launched the world's first Release 7 HSPA+ network using MIMO and offering peak theoretical download speeds of 28 Mbps.

Achieving another milestone for HSPA+, Telstra was the first operator in the world to test the HSPA+ dual-carrier 42 Mbps mobile broadband technology outside of vendor laboratories in December 2009 and has been working on a software upgrade to deploy the Release 8 technology across its network. By the end of 2009, there were 38 commercial HSPA+ networks reported in 24 countries, including the first launch of HSPA+ in North America by Rogers Wireless in Canada and the first launch of HSPA+ in the U.S. by T-Mobile and Bend Broadband.

Telstra, mobilkom Austria and Rogers, early innovators of HSPA+, will present their network experiences February 17 at the HSPA+ and LTE Mobile Broadband Building Global Momentum seminar offered by the GSMA and moderated by 3G Americas during Mobile World Congress.

Mike Roberts, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media remarked, "HSPA+ adoption will accelerate as the technology matures, leading to more than 285 million HSPA+ subscribers globally by the end of 2014. That will represent 10 percent of the 2.8 billion UMTS-HSPA-HSPA+-LTE mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide that year."

The flexibility of the evolution from HSPA to HSPA+ offers operators the ability to maximize their existing network assets while continuing future evolutions of HSPA+ to deliver even higher peak theoretical throughput rates. Commercial HSPA+ speeds are approaching the highest mobile broadband speeds offered worldwide with LTE technology by TeliaSonera in Sweden and Norway. Advantages of HSPA+ include its cost-efficient scaling of the network for rapidly growing data traffic volumes, ability to work with all HSPA devices, and improved end-user experience by reducing latency. It is expected that a majority of the 303 HSPA operators will chose to deploy HSPA+.

"LTE is a clear choice as a next-generation technology for operators that have spectrum available," Pearson commented. "It is great, therefore, to see HSPA+ deploying globally and offering operators vast improvements to their existing networks while utilizing their existing assets. Likewise, we are further encouraged by the strong support from leading equipment manufacturers throughout the entire ecosystem."

Of the more than 1,800 commercial HSPA devices from 163 suppliers that have been made available worldwide since the technology's launch (GSM Association, February 2010), there are currently 32 HSPA+-enabled devices from 11 suppliers. HSPA+-enabled smartphones are expected to be announced during Mobile World Congress with emergence in the market in the first quarter of 2010.

For more information on HSPA and HSPA+ visit www.3gamericas.org . The recently published 3G Americas white paper, 3GPP Mobile Broadband Innovation Path to 4G: Release 9, Release 10 and Beyond: HSPA+, SAE/LTE and LTE-Advanced , provides a detailed explanation of the opportunities available to operators and is available for free download.

By Robert Hoskins

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