HSPA v LTE: the debate continues

Nicole McCormick
31 May 2010

Telecoms consultancy Aircom stirred a debate last week, saying it makes better financial sense in the short-term for operators to upgrade to HSPA+ rather than pursue LTE.

In the case of a tier one operator in Asia, Aircom claims the cellco would need to invest $232 million in the first year to deploy a LTE network. In contrast, a software upgrade to HSPA+ could cost just $77 million.

In other words, mobile operators can cut capex by two-thirds if they upgrade to HSPA+ rather than deploy LTE.

That sort of generalisation was always going to spark controversy, especially from vendors.

Somewhat surprising though, it’s the global operators’ group, the GSM Association, that has come to the defence of LTE.

The Aircom research contains some generic numbers based on a “typical” mobile operator in each region, according to Dan Warren, GSMA director of technology.

“They are broad numbers which doesn’t give an accurate picture of specific costs to a specific operator,” Warren says. “This is because this information is impossible to generalize.”

Warren agrees that the business case for HSPA+ in the short to medium term is extremely compelling.

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