Despite LTE, HSPA+ keeps evolving

Date: November 23, 2010
Pages: 30
US$ 2,495.00
Publisher: Ovum
Report type: Strategic Report
Delivery: E-mail Delivery (PDF)
ID: D7D5510C803EN

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Despite LTE, HSPA+ keeps evolving
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Despite the hype around LTE, HSPA is far from being old-fashioned. Two years ago, Ovum stated that HSPA+ rollouts would flourish and be adopted globally progressively, with an initial preference for the 21Mbps version. However, HSPA+ will keep being enhanced in upcoming 3GPP specifications. The 3GPP Release 8 (R8) specification not only introduces LTE, but also two enhanced versions of HSPA+, including Dual-Cell (DC, aka Dual-Carrier) which brings peak downlink rates of 42Mbps. This report describes the main HSPA+ enhancements brought by 3GPP R8, R9, and R10. It also offers early trends for these future HSPA+ options.
Executive summary
In a nutshell
Ovum view
Key messages
HSPA/HSPA+ will play a leading role by 2015
HSPA dominates to 2015
Status of HSPA+ today
Technical overview of HSPA evolutionary options
What is in the 3GPP specifications?
Release 7 offers two options to enhance HSDPA: higher modulation scheme or MIMO
Release 8 introduces Dual-Cell (DC) capability
Release 9 allows aggregation of carriers in different spectrum bands
Release 10 introduces the support of Multi-Carrier (MC) operation
What are the key benefits of these HSPA enhancements?
Improved peak/average data rates, improved capacity
Enhanced cell-edge performance
More flexible use of spectrum thanks to Dual-Band capability
Better latency
What is the impact on networks and devices of the different enhanced HSPA+ variants?
What does it mean to roll out HSPA+ and its enhanced versions from a network perspective?
The easiest evolution: HSPA+ using 64QAM
MIMO potentially means a need for additional hardware
HSPA+ using Dual-Carrier (or Multi-Carrier)
HSPA+ using Dual-Band feature requires a software upgrade
All wireless network infrastructure vendors develop enhanced HSPA+ solutions
All vendors already supply R7 MIMO-, R7 64QAM-, and R8 DC-HSDPA-compliant systems
What’s next?
What does it mean to roll out HSPA+ and its enhanced versions from a device perspective?
New devices are needed for each HSPA+ flavor
Still more complex to get MIMO-capable devices
LTE devices are likely to mostly support HSPA+ capabilities as well
Availability of chipsets and devices for HSPA+ R8 (and beyond) is still burgeoning
Qualcomm leads the pack for enhanced HSPA+
Still early days for enhanced HSPA+ CPEs
Many manufacturers are going to follow Sierra Wireless in the supply of R8 DC-HSDPA devices
Possible HSPA+ evolution paths
Early trends start to materialize
An increasing number of operators are announcing enhanced HSPA+ plans
R8 Dual-Carrier technology is likely to become the favorite path in the short term
In the mid-term, MIMO can be added to DC-HSDPA/64QAM
Case studies
SmarTone-Vodafone in Hong Kong
Telstra’s HSPA+ plans in Australia
3 Scandinavia (Denmark and Sweden)
Canadian CDMA operator Telus deploys HSPA+ as a path to LTE
Will HSPA+ evolutions delay LTE?
HSPA+ and LTE are complementary
HSPA+ evolutions give greater room to maneuver to several operators before they migrate to LTE
Some players with old UMTS/HSPA networks will migrate earlier to LTE
CDMA operators with LTE plans will stick to their plans or even accelerate their migration to LTE due to HSPA+ competition


Table 1: HSPA/HSPA+ enhancements brought by 3GPP specifications
Table 2: Benefits of the different versions of HSPA+
Table 3: 3GPP HSDPA device categories for R7, R8, and R9
Table 4: Selection of recent enhanced HSPA+ announcements


Figure 1: Mobile broadband connection forecasts, 2009-2015
Figure 2: Technology split of commercial HSPA+ services, September 2010
Figure 3: Dual-Cell HSDPA approach
Figure 4: Multi-carrier approach using different spectrum bands
Figure 5: Peak data rate increases brought by HSPA/HSPA+
Figure 6: HSPA+ vendor market shares based on public references
Figure 7: Vendors’ current HSPA+ roadmaps
Figure 8: Technology split of operators’ HSPA+ plans from R7 to R10
Figure 9: Technology split of operators’ HSPA+ plans at 42Mbps
Figure 10: SmarTone-Vodafone’s network evolution plan
Figure 11: Telstra Ultimate USB modem, from Sierra Wireless
Figure 12: Telstra’s technology roadmap
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Despite LTE, HSPA+ keeps evolving
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