Home arrow more... arrow Oct - Dec 2008 arrow Telstra preparing HSPA+ launch for early 2009
Telstra preparing HSPA+ launch for early 2009

Australia's Telstra looks like being the first mobile operator to roll out HSPA+, an intermediate set of standards between 3G HSPA and LTE.

HSPA+ uses sophisticated radio signalling to boost the data rate up to 28.8Mbit/s; and it can involve an all-IP architecture where the base stations essentially become IP routers, simplifying the network, reducing costs and improving latency.

While the network re-engineering for HSPA+ involves only software upgrades, end-user devices must be HSPA+.

Put simply, the amount of re-engineering and capital cost for HSPA+ is less than that required for LTE, but LTE will give even more capacity and performance for the longer run. So some operators will see value in upgrading to HSPA+ but others will prefer to wait for a few more years and adopt an LTE strategy.

CommsDay spoke with Sierra Wireless, which along with Qualcomm, Ericsson and others, is involved with the implementation of Telstra's HSPA+ Next G network and the release of the first devices for the standard on Telstra’s network, an ambition which came a step closer to commercial reality this week with a public demonstration at Telstra’s Investor Day.

According to Sierra Wireless CEO Jason Cohenour, the upcoming Australian release of 21Mbps HSPA+ devices – expected to be a world-first – is spurring new levels of interest in the technology globally.

The new devices are to begin trialling in December, with Telstra planning to start the upgrade process on its network by year’s end. A commercial launch is expected to follow in the first part of 2009.

In addition to peak headline speeds of 21Mbps, three times that of current HSPA devices, the new standard also boasts lower latencies and more efficient bandwidth use.

Cohenour told CommsDay that the joint efforts of the four firms had accelerated the development process, triggering a concomitant swell of interest inHSPA+ around the world.

“We’ve collaborated not only with Telstra but also with Qualcomm and Ericsson, effectively to start on HSPA+ very early, well ahead of the market,” he said. “We’re really breaking new ground almost every day in this development race.”

“As we look around the world in our other markets, about two months ago there was limited interest in HSPA+ and now, since we’ve announced the collaboration with Telstra and Qualcomm and Ericsson and it’s looking much more realistic, we’re getting a lot more interest from operators around the world.”

Cohenour also noted that Sierra had not shied away from development investment in the face of the ongoing fiscal crisis. “It hasn’t slowed down our investment in development and go-to market activities,” he said.
“While we have to be realistic and cautious about the macro environment, we also have to realise that these things come in cycles... and you want to come out of a down-cycle strong, with a fully loaded pipeline of products so you can take advantage of the upside.”