When the network update is complete, T-Mob will be delivering peak data rates of more than 650 Mbit/s, nearly reaching the 1Gbit/s peak promised by Long Term Evolution (LTE)-Advanced, and upping HSPA+ speeds from today's 42 Mbit/s.
Both companies say it is important to evolve HSPA networks while deploying LTE networks to accommodate mobile data growth. NSN, which counts 200 operators globally on its HSPA customer roster, demonstrated data rates over 100 Mbit/s at this year's Mobile World Congress. It says its Single Radio Access Network (RAN) platform is already equipped to handle the evolution path, which will be backwards compatible with earlier HSPA and relatively easy to install, not to mention more cost effective than deploying LTE.
The initial key proposal for the standard was approved during the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) RAN plenary meeting held this week.
Why this matters
T-Mobile hasn't formally announced plans to deploy an LTE network, instead rolling out its FauxG HSPA+ network with speeds comparable to LTE, but its plans to wrest the most speed possible out if its HSPA network make sense.
Heavy Reading senior analyst Gabriel Brown says most operators will use both technologies -- LTE where there is new spectrum or in some existing GSM spectrum bands -- and, where there is HSPA, operators will develop it. (See 3G vs LTE: No Contest.)
What's not clear, he says, is what specific features will actually get implemented on evolved HSPA networks. An NSN spokeswoman says the company is targeting several features with the final details to be worked out in the standardization process. The features, outlined in a whitepaper available here, include an HSPDA multi-carrier evolution path, multiband frequency band aggregation, and HSPA and LTE carrier aggregation. Longer-term, it will also include enhanced MIMO (multiple input multiple output) functionality and SON features.
For more on NSN's role in the evolution of HSPA and migration to LTE, please check out the following stories:
- Elisa Upgrades to LTE With NSN
- NSN Upgrades Orange Armenia
- CSL Launches HSPA+/LTE Network
- AT&T Confirms Move to 21Mbit/s HSPA+
- AT&T Speeds Up 80% of Its 3G Network
- 4G World: Faster 3G in US – Charting HSPA+
- Who Makes What: LTE Evolved Packet Cores
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile