Long Term HSPA Evolution specs come together, promise speeds of 650Mbps -- and T-Mobile USA is on board

Thought the alphabet soup of modern wireless standards was confusing enough? 1X Advanced / EV-DO Advanced, UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+, dual-carrier HSPA+, EDGE Evolution, LTE, LTE-Advanced, WiMAX, WiMAX 2... we could keep going, but we'd really rather not. Oh, but we have to, because this one could get really interesting: Nokia Siemens is touting that the specifications for Long Term HSPA Evolution have just been submitted to the 3GPP, promising theoretical speeds in excess of 650Mbps -- a number that still falls shy of the ITU's definition of a 4G standard, but easily eclipses just about anything shy of LTE-Advanced or WiMAX 2.

Interestingly, T-Mobile USA is specifically mentioned in Nokia Siemens' press release as supporting the developments, a testament to the fact that the carrier is firmly committed to wringing everything it can out of legacy 3G standards before moving on -- just as they're already doing with their aggressive 21Mbps HSPA+ rollout. Considering that present-day LTE tops out somewhere in the 300Mbps to 400Mbps range, we can't say we're opposed, especially since the new technology will be backward compatible with today's HSPA networks. Yes, granted: "Long Term HSPA Evolution" is a terrible name considering that LTE already stands for Long Term Evolution (and LTHSPAE isn't the slickest acronym anyway) -- but we'll worry about naming logistics closer to launch, which is still years off. See the full press release after the break.

Show full PR text

T-Mobile USA, Nokia Siemens Networks drive evolution of HSPA

Espoo, Finland – 15 December 2010

Mobile leaders promote standardization of Long Term HSPA Evolution to unleash speeds of more than 650 Mbps

Operators would be able to achieve peak data rates of more than 650 megabits per second (Mbps), thanks to an HSPA standard being driven by T-Mobile USA and Nokia Siemens Networks. Long Term HSPA Evolution would improve mobile broadband with speeds matching those promised by LTE Advanced. T-Mobile USA and Nokia Siemens Networks are driving the technology's standardization aiming to make it available for commercial deployment by 2013.

The proposed key features of Long Term HSPA Evolution were accepted during the plenary meeting of 3GPP RAN held on 7-10 December, 2010*.

"We strongly believe in continued HSPA evolution in parallel to the further development of LTE and LTE Advanced," said Neville Ray, chief technology officer, T-Mobile USA. ''Long Term HSPA Evolution will allow us to enhance our 4G mobile broadband network beyond its current and planned near term capabilities, and provide room for considerable growth and speed enhancements. As customer demand for wireless data increases, we are well positioned to compete based on the speed, breadth and evolution path of our mobile broadband service."

"The demand for higher data rates and mobile broadband growth continues to push the need for advances in both HSPA and LTE technologies," added Keith Sutton, head of the WCDMA business line for Nokia Siemens Networks. "We are thus equally committed to both technologies. As a leader in HSPA evolution, we have already demonstrated data rates exceeding 100 Mbps at the Mobile World Congress earlier this year. Today, we also have the largest number of HSPA customers with nearly 200 operators worldwide. Driving the standardization of the new technology is a natural extension of our efforts to realize the full potential of HSPA."

Nokia Siemens Networks' Single Radio Access Network (RAN) platform is already prepared for Long Term HSPA Evolution. Operators would have a smooth evolution path to handle increased network traffic along with controlling costs with the introduction of the new technology.

In addition, all Long Term HSPA Evolution features are backwards compatible and can be used together with existing WCDMA and HSPA mobiles on the same carriers.