The 'inevitable' next step towards HSPA

Ready or not, here it comes

Mobile technology is moving steadily towards richer applications that require higher speeds, and according to several cellular vendors, service providers and industry analysts, the only way to its future is through a combination of HSUPA (High Speed Uplink Packet Access) and HSDPA (High Speed Download Packet Access), together known as HSPA (High Speed Packet Access).

In October last year Telstra spurred on the Australian uptake of the 3.5G standard by launching its Next G network based on HSDPA. Telstra's 3.6 Mbps Next G network is currently expected to offer download speeds of up to five times faster than other 3GSM networks, and may soon hit speeds of up to 14.4 Mbps as it is upgraded to HSUPA.

Vodafone was not far behind, launching its own 1.8Mbps HSDPA network a fortnight later. Meanwhile, Optus is currently trialing HSDPA technology over its Sydney and Canberra networks, and Hutchison is expected to soon follow with a 3.6Mbps network by March.

A cellular inevitability

HSPA is a fairly simple data-centric upgrade that will consolidate GSM- and CDMA-based networks, explains Jerson Yau, IDC Australia Research Analyst for Wireless and Mobility. And besides being faster than current 3G technologies, HSPA providers will be able to boost their networks from 1.8 Mbps to the 3.6, 14.4, 40, and 100Mbps standards via simple software upgrades.

Due to the ease of management and the speeds it offers, Yau expects the move towards HSPA to be an inevitable next step for cellular networks. "It's a necessary stepping stone," he said. "It's so easy to manage, and the gains and benefits are something to brag about."

In fact, as many as 80 percent of mobile subscribers worldwide are expected to be part of the GSM/GPRS/EDGE/WCDMA path by 2007, according to Kursten Leins, Strategic Marketing Manager for Mobility Solutions of Ericsson Australia.

"Eventually all WCDMA networks are expected to be upgraded to HSPA," he said. "WCDMA/HSPA networks are key components in offering users richer mobile services.

"HSPA delivers true mobile broadband services over existing WCDMA infrastructure, providing mobile operators with a new revenue stream based on existing user behavior and demand."

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