UMTS Notes Rise of HSPA+ Networks

The UMTS Forum has revealed that there are now eight commercially launched HSPA+ (High Speed Packet Access+) networks, according to data provided by Wireless Intelligence, the global database of mobile market information.
The current deployments, detailing operator, country and date of deployment, are as follows:

  • Telstra, Australia Feb 2009
  • mobilkom austria March 2009
  • CSL (Telstra), Hong Kong March 2009
  • Vodafone Portugal June 2009
  • Vodafone Greece July 2009
  • TIM, Italy – July 2009
  • Optimus (Sonaecom), Portugal – July 2009
  • StarHub, Singapore – July 2009

Standardised in 3GPP Release 7, HSPA+ uses sophisticated higher-order modulation schemes and, later, MIMO antenna technology to boosting the peak downlink data rates already achieved with HSPA.
While todays HSPA networks support peak downlink rates of 3.6 Mbps or 7.2 Mbps, most HPSA+ networks launched to date support theoretical downlink speeds of 21 Mbps (peak). Italian operator TIM raises the bar even higher, claiming peak downlink speeds of 28 Mbps at launch.
mobilkom austria was the first operator in Europe to launch HSPA+ in March 2009, offering network coverage in urban and rural areas, to provide additional capacity where demand levels for data traffic are high. The launch was supported initially with the Huawei E270+ USB dongle. Since 1 July 2009, mobilkom austrias customers have been offered the Huawei E182e USB device that supports 21.6 Mbps downlink and 5.76 Mbps uplink speeds. mobilkom austria has stated that it will also achieve increased downlink speeds of up to 28Mbps by the end of this year, via its Datenturbo service. Further enhancements specified in 3GPP Release 8 and later in Releases 9 and 10 will drive theoretical peak downlink bit-rates available to HSPA+ operators still higher, to 168Mbps.
Alongside enhanced data transmission speeds, HSPA+ offers other attractions for operators and mobile broadband subscribers, including the ability to cope with increased data traffic loads and capacity needs in specific coverage areas.
The UMTS notes that implementing HSPA+ reduces latency to around 10 ms (compared with 60 ms for HSPA), with a far quicker wake-up time from idle. This significantly enhances the quality of interactive services and applications, from audio/video sharing and streaming to instant messaging and social networking. Other key benefits with HSPA+ include greater capacity and improved battery life for mobile devices.
The UMTS has produced a Whitepaper, 'Mobile Broadband Evolution: the roadmap from HSPA to LTE', which provides more information on HSPA, HSPA+ and LTE (Long term Evolution).
The first half of this year has been an exciting one for mobile broadband, notes UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaim. Weve seen HSPA customer numbers climb quickly, approaching 140 million users out of a global total of 400 million WCDMA/HSPA family subscriptions.
With mobilkom austria leading the way in Europe and Telstra in Asia/Pacific, HSPA+ is now redefining the mobile broadband user experience, with real-world data speeds that rival many peoples fixed Internet connection. For many WCDMA operators that have already deployed HSPA, HSPA+ may be a compelling step before they migrate to LTE and an all-new radio interface.