Huawei announced on January 31, 2012 that it had conducted a network trial with PCCW-HKT (Hong Kong) of an HSPA+ network that can support 84-Mbps in the downlink. This trial demonstrates that Huawei has not let its LTE work keep it from commercializing enhanced HSPA+ performance. It also helps the vendor attract the interest of mobile operators wanting to maximize the performance of their current networks.
Sure, LTE may be the ultimate network plan for most mobile operators, but HSPA+ alleviates the rush to deploy LTE. HSPA+ 84-Mbps provides performance that is competitive with today’s LTE networks. This can help an operator save on short-term spectrum and infrastructure costs. Operators concerned over the long-term support for HSPA+ only need to watch the goings-on at February’s Mobile World Congress (MWC). If history is any indication, Huawei’s announcement is just the first of many to come regarding new HSPA+ performance achievements, showing that support for HSPA+ is industry-wide and remains strong.
Huawei first demonstrated HSPA+ 84-Mbps at the 2010 MWC. The performance for PCCW was achieved using both dual-carrier, multiple-input multiple-output antennas (MIMO) and 64QAM modulation. While other vendors, including Huawei, have demonstrated HSPA+ supporting higher downlink speeds, a live network trial takes the technology a step further. Demonstrations are very much controlled, often in a lab, and don’t come close to a real-world environment. Network trials – less controlled and often done in an environment similar to real-world deployments – show a greater maturity of the network technology. Huawei’s trial signals it remains committed to supporting operators looking to maximize their HSPA+ network deployments. Obviously, with this announcement coming less than a month before MWC, this trial should serve the vendor well in terms of generating mobile operator interest in its network solutions.
HSPA+ should not be overlooked
This trial provides another example of why mobile operators should not overlook HSPA+ in their rush to LTE. 84-Mbps in the downlink provides network performance similar to that of today’s LTE networks. This allows a mobile operator to provide a 4G-like experience without having to spend money on new LTE spectrum and infrastructure.