Dialog Talks Up HSPA+
The trial began two weeks ago in Columbo, the nation's capital, and is set to continue for another couple of months. During this period, Dialog -- the first operator in South Asia, and the first from an emerging market, to puts HSPA+ through its paces -- will expand coverage to other areas and assess the benefits that increased speed gives to its existing service portfolio, says Supan Weerasinghe, the CEO of Dialog Mobile.
HSPA+, also known as evolved HSPA, has a headline data rate of 21 Mbit/s. However, the primary focus of this trial is real-world throughput speed, which is considerably slower than the top-end rate. For example, simulations carried out by SoftBank Mobile Corp. in Japan calculated a throughput rate of 6.2 Mbit/s on a 5 MHz channel.
The trial is being conducted with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. which, along with Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763), supplies the infrastructure for Dialog's standing 3G/HSPA network.
The trial is part of a technology evolution strategy that has seen Dialog deploy 3G, HSPA, and WiMax capabilities during the past three years. This may seem like overkill, but Dialog draws a clear distinction between the ways it's using WiMax and 3G/HSPA.
"Dialog has adopted WiMax 16d as a method of providing fixed Broadband Wireless Access to enterprise users, whilst HSPA is deployed as a mobile broadband offering targeted at the retail/household markets," Weerasinghe tells Light Reading Asia. This concentration on HSPA for the consumer market may well explain Dialog's interest in moving quickly to HSPA+, as data-hungry Internet applications will quickly eat up capacity.
However, unlike other HSPA+ operators -- Hong Kong CSL Ltd. , StarHub in Singapore, and Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) in Australia -- voice growth remains a priority for Dialog. (See CSL Launches HSPA+, StarHub, Huawei Launch HSPA+ Net, and Telstra Pushes HSPA Limits.)
Sri Lanka has a mobile penetration of just over 60 percent, while 3G penetration stood just shy of 4 percent, and HSPA at 1.5 percent, at the end of the first quarter, according to Wireless Intelligence .
Previously, Dialog's Group Chief Executive, Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, has stated that Dialog used the voice efficiencies of 3G/HSPA to offer lower-cost voice services. HSPA+ improves voice efficiencies to an even greater extent, and so can be used to launch further low-cost voice service offerings.
In the longer term, Wijayasuriya expects demand for mobile broadband services in Sri Lanka to follow the usual hockey-stick growth curve, with 50 percent of Dialog's users set to have 3G handsets within the next three years and the vast majority of mobile traffic flowing through its 3G/HSPA network within five years.
— Catherine Haslam, Asia Editor, Light Reading