While so many telecommers continue to ponder whether HSPA+ is truly 4G or not… we Qualcommers are busy pushing the HSPA+ envelope to HSPA+ Advanced — the evolution beyond Rel. 10.
The HSPA+ release (starting from R7) is successively increasing capacity and user experience, reaching the phenomenal peak data rate of 168 mbps in the downlink. So what is the objective of HSPA+ Advanced you might ask? Well, we are razor focused on one single goal — achieving the best possible performance in multicarrier deployments (each carrier is 5 MHz). This single goal, obviously, manifests into many tangible enhancements — and sometimes into different dimensions that HSPA+ hasn’t seen before. Let me explain...
Traditionally, emphasis has always been on achieving higher spectral efficiency, which considers the network to be uniformly loaded. But, in reality, loading is very dynamic, and changes continuously. A particular part of the network might be busy during morning hours. Another part might be more busy in the evening and other parts in between.
Another interesting point is, when you look closely at the highly loaded cells, more often than not, they are surrounded by others that are less loaded. "Smart Networks" an important component of HSPA+ Advanced, exploits these two realistic network conditions to improve network performance. Also, the improvement is provided exactly when and where needed. This, we believe, is a new dimension of enhancement.
Multipoint is one of the notable Smart Network techniques. It allows the aggregation of cells that are on the same frequency/carrier. It improves data rates for users on the cell-edge, and increases overall capacity by utilizing unused capacity of the neighboring cells surrounding the loaded cells. When applied to HetNets (networks with low-power nodes such as picocells), Multipoint increases their effective coverage and hence further increases overall network capacity.
HSPA+ Advanced takes the multicarrier concept into many new directions, such as aggregating up to 8 carriers (across spectrum bands, etc). One interesting twist on that concept, worth mentioning here, is Supplemental Downlink. This feature conveniently aggregates unpaired TDD spectrum with HSPA+ carriers, providing for the typically higher downlink data traffic. This is an attractive proposition particularly for the unpaired L-band spectrum (1.4 GHz spectrum) available in many parts of Europe.
There are many other interesting value propositions worth noting, including further optimization of HetNets, schemes to prepare for the expected explosion of inter-connected low traffic devices such as massive M2M deployments, further expansion of Smartphone and tablet market.
In closing, HSPA+ evolution keeps on going, akin to the legendary “Energizer bunny.” Rest assured that Qualcomm and the whole industry is hard at work to bring these evolutions to fruition.
Don’t forget to checkout our webpage www.qualcomm.com/hspa_plus for more details and more importantly, if you happen to miss our highly attended HSPA+ Advanced webinar, make sure to watch the on-Demand version at http://bit.ly/hQZvtG.