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Evolution of Network Speeds

July 14, 2010

Mobile Broadband enabled by High Speed Packet Access (HSPA)

This paper confirms the current and planned
capabilities and status of mobile broadband, referencing
data from GSA surveys, reports and analysis. The path
to mobile broadband began with WCDMA, a 3GPP IMT
standard, and its first evolution – High Speed Packet
Access (HSPA) boosts the capacity and peak user
speeds up to 14.4 Mbps on the downlink. Most services
benefit from HSPA, and new services are enabled.
Many operators position HSPA as an alternative to fixed
broadband, with the added value of mobility.

HSPA Evolution (HSPA+) is the next step and is

delivering up to 42 Mbps peak downlink in the market
today. Further evolution is foreseen beyond this. The
first LTE systems are launched and initially give
comparable throughput capacity and performance, and
will continue to improve and also benefit from larger
bandwidth deployments (up to 20 MHz).

WCDMA has over 75% market share of commercial 3G networks globally with 357 WCDMA networks now commercially
launched in 148 countries. HSPA is commercially launched by 353 operators in 147 countries, meaning almost 99% of
WCDMA operators have deployed and launched HSPA.

288 commercial HSPA networks (81.5%) support 3.6 Mbps DL peak data speed or higher, including 205 commercial
networks (58%) which support 7.2 Mbps or higher. 63 HSPA+ networks are commercially launched in 35 countries.

More than one third of HSPA networks have launched High Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA). HSUPA alleviates
uplink capacity bottlenecks, increases data throughput, reduces latency, and improves the user experience of existing
services e.g. wireless gaming, VoIP, etc., while enabling new services for increased user satisfaction. Uplink speeds are
increasing too, from 2 Mbps peak initially, up to 5.8 Mbps peak using 2 ms Transmission Time Interval (TTI), which is now
commercially launched by 41 operators.

235 suppliers have launched 2,579 HSPA user devices. The majority (over 55%) support peak downlink data speeds of
7.2 Mbps or higher. 724 HSUPA devices are launched, representing 110% growth since October 2009. 364 HSUPA
devices (over 50%) support or are upgradeable for 5.8 Mbps peak (compared to 125 in October 2009).

HSPA Evolution (HSPA+)

In a global industry survey* organized in 2009 by GSA, most respondents believed that HSPA Evolution (HSPA+) mobile
broadband technology would become mainstream in 2010. Futhermore, the majority stated that they expected 21 Mbps
peak downlink (64QAM HSPA) systems would be the most prominent in number. This expectation is becoming fact. 116
operators in 54 countries have committed to HSPA+ network deployments, of which 63 HSPA+ systems have now
entered commercial service in 35 countries. By end 2010, GSA expects that 95 - 100 HSPA+ systems will be in
commercial service. The majority of today’s HSPA+ networks (53) support a peak downlink data speed of 21 Mbps. 7
networks support 28 Mbps peak downlink, which is realized by using 2 x 2 MIMO technology with 16QAM HSPA. Now 3
42 Mbps HSPA+ networks in commercial service

HSPA+ has a strong evolution path. Several operators have confirmed plans for further network evolution steps, with
many also preparing to deliver 42 Mbps peak downlink capability this year. This performance boost is achieved by
combining 64QAM modulation and double the bandwidth i.e. using dual carriers (2 x 5 MHz = 10 MHz) which is called
DC-HSPA (Dual Cell HSPA). This capability was introduced in the Release 8 standard. Release 8 also enables 42 Mbps
to be achieved by combining 2 x 2 MHz MIMO and 64QAM in a single (i.e. 5 MHz) carrier. For the uplink, using 16 QAM
instead of QPSK modulation doubles the peak rate to 11.5 Mbps. 3GPP Release 9 combines multicarrier and MIMO
technologies in 10 MHz bandwidth to reach 84 Mbps peak on the downlink.
Evolution of Network Speeds
July 14, 2010

Using multicarrier on the uplink doubles the peak date rate to 23 Mbps. Standardization beyond Release 9 may extend
multicarrier to 20 MHz bandwidth and utilize combinations of multicarrier and MIMO for downlink speeds over 100 Mbps.

See Report: Global HSPA+ Network Commitments and Deployments (June 30, 2010)
See Report: HSPA Operators Survey (June 30, 2010)
Also see information paper “HSPA Evolution for the mobile handset always on experience”
* Industry predicts 21 Mbps to be next mobile broadband baseline

The GSA HSPA Devices survey published on July 12, 2010 confirmed 2,579 HSPA devices are now launched in the
market by 235 suppliers. This figure includes 50 HSPA Evolution (HSPA+) mobile broadband devices that have been
launched by 11 suppliers (34 products support 21 Mbps peak, 11 support 28 Mbps peak, 5 support 42 Mbps peak).
HSPA Devices Survey - Key Findings: 2,579 HSPA products launched (July 12, 2010)

Registered website users from GSA member companies or network operators with access to GAMBoD may
undertake their own analysis of all the HSPA devices, features, trends, create charts, lists, etc.: log-in and visit

The HSPA/EDGE combination and EDGE Evolution

GSM/EDGE, a software enhancement to GPRS networks, is a mature global technology supported by a well -developed
ecosystem. 279 out of 401 (c.70%) of HSPA network operator commitments have also committed to EDGE to maintain
broadband access outside of HSPA coverage areas, for the best user experience.
WCDMA evolution to HSPA is the key driver for improving GSM/EDGE to minimize the performance gap. “Evolved
GERAN” (GSM/EDGE Radio Access Network) i.e. “EDGE Evolution”, achieves several benefits with low impact on the
GSM/EDGE network, as part of the 3GPP Release 7 standard:
 Downlink speed up to 1.2 Mbps per user initially (the standard enables up to 1.9 Mbps per user)
 Uplink speed up to 474 kbps per user (the standard enables up to 947 kbps per user). EGPRS-2 UL (HUGE)
level B with maximum 118.4 kbps per timeslot. Peak implementation today 4 timeslots per user (standard enables
up to 8 timeslots per user)
Dual Carrier is the first step in EDGE evolution and is available as a software upgrade, bringing the potential to double
EDGE speeds to 592 kbps on existing EDGE-capable networks. Several network vendors have committed to delivering
solutions and commercial trials with operators are on-going. EGPRS-2 is expected to enter the market in 2010.
See GSA Information Paper “EDGE Evolution”
Evolution of Network Speeds
July 14, 2010

Long Term Evolution (LTE)

3GPP LTE is the next step for a superior mobile
broadband experience, and is an evolution of the
GSM/WCDMA-HSPA systems family for the next
generation of mobile broadband. LTE delivers capacity
and data rate enhancements to support new services
and features requiring higher levels of capability and
performance. Downlink and uplink data rates are
significantly higher. The LTE system includes support
of a full IP-based network and harmonization with other
radio access technologies.

LTE radio technology is optimized to enhance networks

by enabling significant new high capacity mobile
broadband applications and services, whilst providing
cost efficient ubiquitous mobile coverage. LTE is also
scalable to allow operation in a wide range of spectrum
bandwidths, from 1.4 – 20 MHz, using both Frequency
Division Duplex (FDD) and Time Division Duplex (TDD)
modes, thus providing flexibility to suit any operator’s
existing or future frequency allocation. LTE and HSPA are complementary to ensure seamless inter-operability.

LTE is firmly on track, attracting global industry support particularly by GSM/HSPA operators. With a strong HSPA eco-
system now in place, LTE is the natural migration choice for most mobile operators globally, including many CDMA
operators. Leading WiMAX™ operator Yota has announced it will shift to LTE in Russia. GSA’s “Evolution to LTE”
report published on June 7, 2010 confirms 80 operators have committed to LTE deployments in 33 countries. GSA
anticipates that up to 22 LTE networks will be in service by end 2010, and at least 45 are expected to be in service by end
2012. The first LTE networks entered
commercial service in December 2009 in
Norway and Sweden. 30 additional pre-
commitment trials are on-going.
Momentum for TD-LTE is also building.

GSA press release:
“Evolution to LTE” information paper at

ITU IMT-Advanced System

The ITU has embarked on defining the
next generation of mobile systems and
will in a few months time publish an ITU
Recommendation containing a description
of the successful radio interface
candidates. 3GPP made a formal
submission to the ITU on October 7,
2009, proposing that LTE Release 10 &
beyond (LTE-Advanced) be evaluated as
a candidate for the future ITU IMT-
Advanced system.
For further background see
“LTE-Advanced information update”

All charts used in this paper can be downloaded at

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