Ericsson pushes HSPA to 63Mbps

Turkcell uses tri-carrier 3G+ technology to boost speeds even where it is not yet upgrading to LTE

By Caroline Gabriel

Not all the efforts to drive up mobile network speeds are focused on mythical 5G, or even on emerging LTE-Advanced. Ericsson showed off some far more pragmatic breakthroughs last week, with the world's first live demonstration of three-carrier HSDPA, achieving speeds of 63Mbps on the downlink; as well as Enhanced Uplink Multicarrier (EUL-MC) which delivered 11.5Mbps on the uplink.

Just as EDGE continued to be enhanced and deployed well into the 3G era, so HSPA technologies have their own roadmap and will complement LTE for many operators - a pattern common in parts of Europe has been to use 4G for urban metrozones while keeping 3G+ for wide area data coverage; other carriers intend to keep stretching their 3G limits in order to defer any investment in 4G for a few years. Ericsson, which has significant market share and IPR in the 3G technology family, says multicarrier HSPA will be an important complement to LTE and will provide "a mobile broadband experience of comparable quality".

The demonstration took place on a commercial network owned by Turkcell, using a Qualcomm-powered smartphone. The three-carrier capability will be included in Ericsson's software release 15A. It is engineered to increase user downlink rates by up to 50% throughout the cell, (compared to single carrier), regardless of network load. This test was performed in the 2.1GHz band, using three 5MHz carriers for downlink and two for uplink.

Turkcell currently has a dual-carrier HSDPA network supporting speeds of up to 43.2Mbps and 5.76Mbps.

3C-HSDPA is designed to allow simultaneous downlink transmissions on up to three 5MHz carriers to a single user. It supports both single-band and dual-band transmission.

EUL-MC, which is included in Ericsson software release 14B, increases uplink speeds by up to 100% by supporting simultaneous uplink transmissions on two 5MHz carriers, regardless of load conditions, and applying to all areas of the cell. Both these HSPA features should be commercially available in devices towards the end of this year.

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