AIRCOM: HSPA+ cheaper than LTE

AIRCOM International has today announced expert analysis highlighting why HSPA+ could make short-term commercial sense to a wide range of 3GPP operators contemplating their mobile broadband network

AIRCOM International has today announced expert analysis highlighting why HSPA+ could make short-term commercial sense to a wide range of 3GPP operators contemplating their mobile broadband network migration strategies. ROI (return on investment) and new pricing models are the key factors.

As operators continue to address the rapidly increasing demand for mobile data, further attention and financial investment has been committed to upgrade existing network infrastructure. With peak download speeds above 100 Mbps being suggested, LTE has been widely hailed as the panacea for operators’ congestion troubles.

“There is great pressure on operators to upgrade their networks and improve the level of service they deliver to consumers and enterprise customers. The so-called ‘iPhone effect’ is piling pressure on to existing infrastructure. There is a real and immediate need for operators to upgrade their networks, but LTE is not the answer – today at least.” says AIRCOM Services Director (Product Management), Fabricio Martinez, responsible for providing the industry with the ‘cost of LTE’ reality check in late 2009.

Based on in-depth analysis of network infrastructure requirements, AIRCOM identifies HSPA+ as a compelling alternative for operators’ mobile broadband strategies.

Available today, the technology offers up to 21Mbps without any additional antenna infrastructure or second carrier – allowing users to experience mobile broadband around five times faster than the current average of 3.6Mbps. HSPA+ also allows mobile operators to control service provisioning and prioritisation, delivering Quality of Experience (QoE) and Quality of Service (QoS) guarantees.

Fundamentally, deployment of HSPA+ offers significantly reduced CAPEX investment compared to LTE. Reduction for a UK operator could be as much as £345 million in 12 months; as much as $1.19 billion for a US operator.

“HSPA+ is able to meet – and exceed – current data demands, delivering a theoretical maximum of 21Mbps and an average experience of around 16Mbps. With average mobile broadband users experiencing around 3.6Mbps, this is a significant increase.

“The increase in speed enables operators to do two things: to combat price erosion, and to offer sophisticated service provisioning. As operators are able to prioritise data traffic and users, QoE can be assured, data speeds can be controlled, and we will see a tiered pricing model emerge, mirroring the fixed line broadband business.

“The most important factor in deciding a future network technology is ROI. Due to the low CAPEX investment and new revenue opportunities, deployment of HSPA+ will allow operators to see ROI in three years; perfect timing to upgrade to LTE, when that technology’s ecosystem has matured, devices have come to market, and equipment prices have reduced.”

LTE is undoubtedly set to be the dominant future mobile broadband standard. The industry is backing this throughout all levels of the technology chain and significant momentum is building. However, in recent times, a number of operators initially supporting LTE have since announced HSPA+ strategies as an interim measure.

Adopting HSPA+ as the next step enables operators to meet customer demands quickly and cost-effectively, using existing infrastructure and spectrum. And, when the time is right – when expanding HSPA+ capacity is less economical or operationally more challenging than upgrading to LTE – HSPA+ offers a natural evolution path to LTE.

HSPA+ is cheaper than LTE as HSPA+ allows for re-use of existing HSPA infrastructure and antenna systems. It also offers similar savings in Core network infrastructure as LTE by employing 3GPP tunnelling, which removes the need for expensive SGSN and RNC expansions

HSPA+ can deliver speed enhancements with allocation of 5MHz bandwidth; LTE channels must be allocated 10-20MHz



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