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3G/HSPA

HSPA+ Could Still Be in Apple's Future

5:00 PM -- Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) didn't do a HSPA+ upgrade for its latest iPhone, but that doesn't mean that a faster 3G upgrade isn't in the cards for the iconic device in the future.

Apple doesn't typically live on the cutting edge of cellular capabilities -- its first iPhone didn't even support 3G GSM. The design, interface, and applications are what makes the iPhone a top seller, rather than the geeky data rates. The firm will have to look at making the jump to HSPA+ with its next generation of phones and possibly even try and get to Long Term Evolution proto-4G technology too.

This is happening behind the scenes now. Recall that Apple was advertising a position for a "Cellular Technology Software Manager" back in March and wanted someone familiar with 21-Mbit/s HSPA+ and LTE, according to Electronista.

This suggests that at some point, maybe in 2011, Apple will be able to support AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s 14.4-Mbit/s 3G upgrade and 21-Mbit/s upgrades from other international GSM carriers. The 21-Mbit/s upgrade to high-speed packet access 3G is the fastest that can be got out of the technology without adding additional antennas to the handset and base stations.

I still think 2012 is a much more likely date for an LTE update. AT&T's LTE deployment will be gathering steam in 2012, and Verizon Wireless has said that it might start offering voice-over-LTE in that year (so, Apple wouldn't have to deal with dual-mode LTE and CDMA). Waiting until 2012 for an LTE iPhone gives Apple a much wider market to sell a phone to, both here and abroad.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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