HSPA+: High Speed Packet Access Plus

      HSPA+ Information    
     Q&A: HSPA+    
4G Americas, Oct 2011
White Papers    
HSPA+ (High Speed Packet Access Plus) is also known as HSPA Evolution and Evolved HSPA. HSPA+ was first standardized in 3GPP Release 7 and standardization has continued through to Release 10. HSPA+ will apply some of the techniques developed for Long Term Evolution (LTE) and allow operators to extend the life of their HSPA networks. 4G Americas initiated proposals at 3GPP to lead the development of the HSPA+ standards which now have received wide scale commitments from operators.
Some forecasts put HSPA at over 3.5 billion subscribers by the end of 2016. There were 478 commercial deployments of HSPA in 181 countries, including 240 HSPA+ networks as of October 2012.  With the existing ubiquitous coverage of HSPA in the world, HSPA+ will continue to be enhanced through the 3GPP standards process to provide a seamless solution for operators as they upgrade their networks.
HSPA+ brings improved support and performance for real-time conversational and interactive services such as Push-to-Talk over Cellular (PoC), picture and video sharing, and Video and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) through the introduction of features like Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antennas, Continuous Packet Connectivity (CPC) and Higher Order Modulations.
Some of the key features of HSPA+ include the following:
  • HSPA+ is a simple upgrade to today’s HSPA networks, protecting an operator’s investment in the network. HSPA+ enhancements are backward-compatible with UMTS Release 99/Release 5/Release 6
  • HSPA+ provides a strategic performance roadmap advantage for incumbent GSM-HSPA operators providing OFDMA-equivalent performance in 5X5 MHz spectrum allocations with only incremental investment. HSPA+ could match, and possibly exceed, the potential performance capabilities of IEEE 802.16e-2005 (mobile WiMAX) in the same amount of spectrum, and could match LTE performance when using 5 MHz of spectrum.
  • HSPA+ will significantly increase HSPA capacity as well as reduce latency below 50 milliseconds (ms)
  • The first phase of HSPA+ with 64 QAM has already been deployed commercially and is providing peak theoretical downlink throughput rates of 21 Mbps
  • HSPA+ with 64 QAM and advanced antenna techniques such as 2X2 MIMO can deliver 42 Mbps theoretical capability and 11.5 Mbps on the uplink
  • Smooth interworking will be provided between HSPA+ and LTE that facilitates operation of both technologies. As such, operators may choose to leverage the System Architecture Evolution/Evolved Packet Core (SAE/EPC) planned for LTE.
  • HSPA+ supports voice and data services on the same carrier and across all of the available radio spectrum and offers these services simultaneously to users
HSPA+ is an affordable and incremental upgrade to existing HSPA networks. It provides a tremendous advantage to HSPA operators, which is not an option for CDMA operators who are already unable to compete with the higher data throughput performance of HSPA and have no future evolution commercially viable for enhancement to their EV-DO  networks today. Because it offers impressive performance at an incremental cost, some HSPA operators plan to use HSPA+ as a companion to LTE.
As 3GPP specifications evolve, their advanced features help to further the capabilities of today’s modern mobile broadband networks. With each release there have been improvements such as better cell edge performance, increased system efficiencies, higher peak data rates and an overall improved end-user experience. 3GPP feature evolution from Rel-7 to Rel-10 has pushed possible HSPA peak data rates from 14 Mbps to 168 Mbps. Continued enhancements in 3GPP Rel-11 will again double this capability to a possible peak data rate of 336 Mbps:
  • Rel-7: 64QAM or 2X2 MIMO => 21 or 28 Mbps
  • Rel-8: DC + 64QAM or 2X2 MIMO + 64QAM => 42 Mbps
  • Rel-9: DC + 2X2 MIMO + 64QAM => 84 Mbps
  • Rel-10: 4C + 2X2 MIMO + 64QAM => 168 Mbps
  • Rel-11: (8C or 4X4 MIMO) + 64QAM => 336 Mbps
Telstra in Australia, Starhub in Singapore, CSL in Hong Kong and Mobilkom Austria in Central and Eastern Europe were the first operators to launch commercial HSPA+ networks in early 2009, initially providing peak theoretical download speeds of 21 Mbps. Many operators such as T-Mobile USA upgraded their  networks to 42 Mbps.