More than 200 HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) systems worldwide have launched commercial mobile broadband services, according to the latest research published by GSA, the Global mobile Suppliers Association.
The GSA survey, "HSPA Operator Commitments", is said to confirm 207 HSDPA networks have launched in 89 countries. This compares with 126 commercial HSDPA networks in 63 countries reported by GSA 12 months previously.
Today there are 110 commercial HSDPA operators in Europe, 44 in APAC, 26 in the Middle East and Africa region, and 27 in the Americas and Caribbean. A further 35 HSDPA networks in 10 additional countries are in various stages of deployment.
HSDPA is the first evolution of WCDMA and is the clear technology of choice across the world for delivery of mobile broadband services. HSPA (the term which embraces HSDPA and HSUPA) is supported by the largest and most developed eco-system, with the greatest number of user devices (approaching 700) and frequency combinations.
The majority of WCDMA-HSPA systems operate in the IMT-2000 core band (2100 MHz) although HSPA is deployed today in several additional frequency bands i.e. 850, 900, 1700, 1800, and 1900 MHz to meet all market requirements.
There is considerable momentum for WCDMA-HSPA deployments in the lower frequency bands i.e. 850 MHz and 900 MHz to leverage coverage improvements, performance and cost efficiencies. Several commercial HSPA systems are successfully operating in the 850 MHz band throughout the Americas and Australia, and 3 commercial HSPA systems are now launched in the 900 MHz band (often referred to as UMTS 900) in Estonia, Finland and Thailand, with several more in deployment.
WCDMA and HSPA are part of the evolutionary roadmap for GSM and the natural evolution path followed by GSM network operators worldwide. GSA calculates there are over 1.46 billion customers on mobile networks (GSM/EDGE/WCDMA-HSPA) where HSPA is commercially enabled.
The survey also underlines the rapid evolution of network data speeds. 135 commercial HSDPA operators, i.e. 65%, support downlink data speeds of 3.6 Mbps peak or higher, and 55 operators (over 26%) have launched with the capability to support 7.2 Mbps peak or even higher, and further uplink speed improvements will soon be commercial reality with Evolved HSPA (HSPA+).
A significant evolution is also taking place on the uplink, says GSA. 51 operators in
35 countries, compared to 26 commercial systems 6 months ago, have now launched HSUPA (High Speed Uplink Packet Access) services, with an additional 17 HSUPA networks in deployment. Europe has 38, i.e. the highest number of commercial HSUPA systems, representing 100% increase in less than 6 months. Most HSUPA networks initially support up to approximately 2 Mbps peak, and some networks are now introducing 5.76 Mbps peak capability.
GSA's research also shows how the majority of HSPA operators combine with GSM/EDGE for service continuity and the best user experience. 123 of 207 commercially launched HSDPA operators, i.e. almost 60%, have also commercially launched EDGE.