7.2Mbps is the new baseline for HSPA

28 Jul 2009

The Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) has confirmed 7.2Mbps as the new baseline for high speed packet access (HSPA) or 3G broadband wireless networks, and has revealed that the number of HSPA devices on the market has increased 121pc year-on-year.

Half of the HSPA networks in commercial service globally are capable of peak downlink data speeds of 7.2Mbps or higher, according to research just published by the GSA.

GSA’s newly released HSPA Operator Commitments Survey confirms 316 HSPA network commitments in 129 countries.

A total of 274 operators have commercially launched HSPA mobile broadband services in 115 countries, with around half of them supporting a peak downlink data speed of 7.2Mbps or higher.

WCDMA has over 73pc market share of commercial 3G networks worldwide. Almost 95pc of WCDMA operators have now launched HSPA.

A related survey by GSA confirms that 1,605 HSPA devices have been launched by 183 manufacturers. The number of products announced increased by over 121pc year-on-year.

The number of HSPA-enabled notebooks tripled year-on-year, with the number of phones and smartphones rising by more than 88pc in the same period.

Excluding notebooks, a total of 595 HSPA products (over 46pc) support peak downlink data speeds of 7.2Mbps or more.

“With 135 commercial HSPA networks supporting peak downlink data throughputs of at least 7.2Mbps, and almost 600 user devices launched in the market which are capable of operating at 7.2Mbps or higher, clearly a new baseline for mobile broadband service and capabilities has been established using HSPA,” said president of the GSA Alan Hadden.

Evolved HSPA (HSPA+) is the next step on the roadmap for many operators, which increases data rates by using higher order modulation schemes and multiple antenna technology (MIMO).

3GPP Release 7 introduced 64 QAM modulation, increasing the downlink peak data bit rate by 50pc to 21 Mbps. In the uplink, 16 QAM doubles the peak data bit rate from 5.76Mbps to 11.5 Mbps.

Release 8 allows for combining 64 QAM with 2×2 MIMO for peak rates up to 42 Mbps downlink and 11.5Mbps uplink (per 5 MHz carrier). Further evolution of HSPA will use combinations of multi-carrier and MIMO to reach peak rates of 84Mbps downlink and 23 Mbps uplink.

Almost 40 operators have committed to HSPA+ network deployments.

The world’s first HSPA+ network was launched in February 2009. According to GSA, the number of HSPA+ networks in commercial service has now reached double figures. 10 HSPA+ systems are commercially launched which are using 64QAM modulation to deliver 21Mbps peak data throughput on the downlink, for a typical user experience up to 8Mbps, depending on device availability.

The world’s first HSPA+ system utilising MIMO technology has also been launched in Italy, boosting peak downlink data throughput up to 28Mbps. The recent GSA HSPA devices survey confirmed that 8 HSPA+ user devices are already launched in the market.

Uplink data speeds are also increasing. 98 operators have committed to HSPA+, with 87 networks now commercially launched, and an increasing number of these networks support 5.8Mbps peak data throughput. The number of HSPA+ user devices announced by manufacturers has more than quadrupled over the past 12 months, and now stands at 305 products.

More than a third (102 devices) support, or are upgradeable for 5.8Mbps peak operation, compared to only 14 products in July 2008.

GSA earlier announced that 31 operators are committed to LTE network deployments, which will significantly further boost network throughputs, improve spectrum and operational efficiencies and performance, and reduce latency for the next step in the user experience. GSA anticipates that up to 12 LTE networks will be in commercial service by end 2010.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years