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Vodafone Eyes HSPA+ as a Key Technology to Head the Mobile Broadband Race
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Vodafone is to trial HSPA+, an evolution of today's radio access HSPA technology, to assess its potential to deliver even higher data rates through the upgrade of existing network equipment.

Vodafone will work alongside Ericsson, Huawei and Qualcomm to trial Release 7 HSPA+ (also known as HSPA Evolution) which has the potential to handle data even more efficiently than today’s HSPA technology.

The initiative will help to establish whether HSPA+ is capable of delivering data throughput rates of up to 28.8 Mbps compared to the 14.4 Mbps maximum offered by today's HSPA networks. If successful, the technology has the potential to extend the life of today’s HSPA infrastructure still further.

HSPA+ technology is designed to offer higher throughput than HSPA through its use of multiple antennae on both base stations and handsets (Multiple Input Multiple Output) as well as the deployment of a complex modulation technique called 64-QAM HSDPA. Both features will require new advanced devices compliant to 3GPP Release7 standard.

The project builds on early technical assessments that Vodafone has already carried out where the MIMO version of HSPA+ recorded high data throughput rates for users in a simulated urban macrocellular network.

Last year Vodafone launched a 3G broadband service based on High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) with downlink peak rates of up to 7.2Mbps in selected hotspots within some key markets. Vodafone plans to carry out software upgrades to more of these selected hotspots to deliver up to14.4Mbps from the end of the year as part of the existing HSPA roadmap subject to device availability.

"These trials will help us to ascertain whether HSPA+ voice and data capacity enhancements will be able to leverage existing UMTS assets, including radio spectrum, to prolong the lifespan of current UMTS networks still further," said Steve Pusey, Global CTO of Vodafone. "It will complement the exploratory work we are carrying out into more long-term next generation wireless technologies such as LTE."