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All set for shift to mobile broadband

Posted: 03 Dec 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mobile broadband? W-CDMA? 3G?

Half of all the HSDPA devices that have been introduced in the market are consumer devices or phones. (Click to view full image)

The Internet has transformed how people communicate, access and share news and information. Online entertainment and other services have grown. Broadband connections serve more businesses and homes, providing a richer experience and stimulus for innovation and growth. The business of mobile network operators is undergoing rapid change as the Internet goes mobile, alongside continuing developments in voice services.

Wireless plays a key role in delivering broadband experience. W-CDMA provides the path to mobile broadband and is the natural next step in the evolution of GSM operators. It is the leading 3G mobile communications system with 182 commercial networks in 81 countries, and 70 percent market share of all commercial 3G networks. The Asia-Pacific, with over 1 billion GSM and W-CDMA subscribers, has a pivotal role in W-CDMA development.

It is clear that 3G/W-CDMA subscriptions are risingwith over 160 million current subscribers and monthly growth exceeding 6 million. Almost half of all W-CDMA subscriptions are in Asia-Pacific, and in Western Europe the majority of mobile subscription growth is for W-CDMA.

Most W-CDMA operators implement High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA), the first evolution of W-CDMA, to increase data speeds for users (typically 1-3Mbps), reduce latency and significantly improve the user experience. The focus is on increasing data revenues, which is the key growth area for mobile operators in developed markets. In developing markets, 3G/HSPA provides a key opportunity for delivering broadband Internet access in rural and urban areas.

HSPA is the new baseline for mobile broadband.Over 80 percent of commercial W-CDMA networks have launched HSDPA with 147 commercial HSDPA networks in 69 countries as of October, and 44 more HSDPA networks in deployment. The introduction of flat rate data pricing in many markets is a key inflection point.

HSDPA devices address all segments, enabling operators also to compete in new markets. (Click to view full image)

HSDPA is launched throughout Asia-Pacific including Australia, Cambodia, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, Japan, Macau SAR, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Taiwan. The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) estimates that there are over 235 million GSM, GPRS/Edge, W-CDMA and HSPA subscribers in commercial HSPA-enabled networks in the region, and worldwide the figure is over 900 million. HSDPA is launched in 26 of the 27 countries of the European Union, and networks are launched throughout Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.

Downlink speeds are increasing: 81 commercial HSDPA networks, or 55 percent, deliver 3.6Mbps (peak) in 44 countries; and 25 networks have launched 7.2Mbps (peak) or more.

HSDPA devices are mainstream.A recent GSA survey confirmed that 403 HSDPA devices have been launched in the market by 80 suppliers, with 275 products introduced so far this year. Compared to 84 products as of September 2006, this signals huge growth and industry commitment. HSDPA devices address all segments, enabling operators to also compete in new markets e.g. as an alternative to DSL, with the added benefits of mobility. There is a trend toward multiband W-CMDA-HSDPA with 75 devices operating in 850/1900/2100, enabling global roaming.

The global growth of commercial networks reflects the increase in speed. (Click to view full image)

There are already 42 networks that have committed to High-Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA) and 19 HSUPA networks have launched in 16 countries, increasing uplink speed to 2Mbps (peak). There are 33 devices that support or can be upgraded for these networks. Future evolutions plan uplink speed up to 5.8Mbps (peak).

Most W-CDMA-HSPA networks are complemented by GSM/Edge for service continuity and the best user experience. Edge delivers typical user data speeds of up to 200Kbps. At least 70 percent of HSDPA devices support GSM/Edge. Edge is undergoing evolution for higher speeds, lower latency, and increased spectral efficiency (GERAN Evolution) with HSPA the main driver, to reduce the performance gap. In markets anticipating 3G license awards, Edge has assisted operators to prepare the market for mobile broadband.

HSPA operators worldwide are reporting many success stories of subscription growth, increased traffic, average revenue per unit, revenues and profitability. Looking ahead, the challenge is to ensure lowest service delivery cost, which HSPA and future evolutions (HSPA+) enable.

- Alan Hadden
President, Global mobile Suppliers Association

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