HSPA+, also known as Evolved High-Speed Packet Access is a wireless broadband standard defined in 3GPP release 7 and above.

HSPA+ provides HSPA data rates up to 84 Megabits per second (Mbit/s) on the downlink and 22 Mbit/s on the uplink through the use of a multiple-antenna technique known as MIMO (for “multiple-input and multiple-output”) and higher order modulation (64QAM). MIMO on CDMA based systems acts like virtual sectors to give extra capacity closer to the mast. The 84 Mbit/s and 22 Mbit/s represent theoretical peak sector speeds. The actual speed for a user will be lower. At cell edge and even at half the distance to the cell edge there may only be slight increase compared with 14.4 Mbit/s HSDPA unless a channel wider than 5 MHz is used. Future revisions of HSPA+ support up to 168 Mbit/s using multiple carriers and up to 672 Mbit/s is proposed for 3GPP Release 11 using advanced antenna techniques.

As of November 2009, there are 20 HSPA+ networks running in the world at 21 Mbit/s and two are running at 28 Mbit/s. The first to launch was Telstra in Australia in late 2008, with access in February 2009 to speeds up to 21 Mbit/s.




Benefits of HSPA+

 For operators using existing HSPA networks, the switch to HSPA+ could protect their investment. This is because HSPA+ is just a simple upgrade to the current HSPA networks. HSPA+ is also backwards compatible with UMTS Release 99/Release5/Release6. With a just little investment, HSPA+ offers a strategic performance roadmap advantage for existing GSM-HSPA operators providing OFDMA-equivalent performance in 5X5 MHz spectrum allocations. HSPA+ can also match and even exceed the expected performance capabilities of mobile WiMax in the same amount of spectrum. When using 5MHz of spectrum, it could match the performance of LTE.


The main benefit that HSPA+ offers to current HSPA operators is affordability. This is because upgrading from HSPA to HSPA+ requires minimal investment only. Unfortunately for CDMA operators, they don't have the same option. As it is, they are already incapable of competing with the higher data throughput performance  of  HSPA and future evolution for improvement to their EV-DO is not commercially viable.  Because of the benefits it provides, HSPA+ is seen as being a companion to LTE by some HSPA operators.


Key Features of HSPA+

  • It significantly increases HSPA capacity.
  • It reduces latency below 50 milliseconds (ms).
  • It can theoretically deliver up to 42 Mbps on the downlink and 11.5 on the uplink with 64 QAM and advanced antenna techniques such as 2X2 MIMO. Its first phase has already been deployed and is providing peak downlink througput rates of 21Mbps.
  • It smoothly nterworks LTE facilitating operation of both technologies. This could lead to operators opting to leverage the System Architecture Evolution/Evoled Packet Core (SAE/EPC) planned for LTE.
  • It supports voice and data services on the same carrier and across all of the available radio spectrum and provides these services simultaneously to users.
  • It delivers significant improvements to battery life and delivers a true always-on connection by offering quicker wake-from-idle time.


Carriers that Support HSPA+

Some of the first carriers to launch commercial HSPA+ networks include Telstra in Australia, CSL in Hong Kong, Starhub in Singapore and Mobilkom Austria in Central and Eastern Europe and many more. These carriers are initially offering peak theoretical download speeds of up to 21Mbps. Recently, T-Mobile USA announced that it will be launching dual-carrier HSPA+ in 50 markets across the U.S. on top of its existing deployments in Las Vegas, New York and Orlando. The new network offers theoretical peak speeds of up to 42Mbps. Several carriers, including Telstra, also plan to upgrade their networks to 42Mbps.


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