SAN DIEGO—It wasn’t long ago that when people talked about high-speed wireless data, they were talking in terms of 1 Mbps or less. That’s gone by the wayside now, as Qualcomm announced it has made the world’s first wireless data call using the next technology in the W-CDMA 3G group of technologies, HSPA+ (high-speed packet access plus).
Qualcomm said that call registered 20 Mbps downlink data rates in a 5 MHz channel, which doubles the data rate for HSPA while also tripling the voice capacity using VoIP. Qualcomm’s solution is designed for devices like data cards but may eventually find its way into handsets or laptop modules.
Steve Mollenkopf, executive vice president of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies, said in an interview the company already is shipping its HSPA+ chipset, the MDM8200, and expects it to be available commercially in data cards by the end of the year or early 2009. Qualcomm already has announced that carriers like Hutchison 3G, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Telstra are going to trial the technology.
As important as the higher data rates may be, Mollenkopf said the MDM8200 also provides very low latency rates so users will be able to get fast access to the Internet and get the content they want. The chipset also has the processing power to support data-intensive applications, he said.
The MDM8200 uses Release 7 of the 3GPP specifications, which is designed to provide downlink rates up to 28 Mbps and uplink rates of up to 11 Mbps. Future iterations of the technology promise downlink speeds up to 84 Mbps and uplink rates of 23 Mbps using MIMO.
Mollenkopf said HSPA+ will allow operators to continue to use their legacy equipment while providing higher data rates, and also will allow them to decide when and where to deploy a 4G technology like LTE (long term evolution). LTE requires new infrastructure but promises data rates up to 277 Mbps down and 75 Mbps up. LTE isn’t expected to be commercial until 2010 or later, although some vendors are predicting their equipment will be ready as early as 2009. Qualcomm also supports LTE.
Qualcomm isn’t alone in working in the HSPA+ and LTE arenas, something most vendors have bet on. Ericsson has demonstrated LTE on the base station for both paired and unpaired spectrum, reporting data rates of up to 160 Mbps down in FDD (frequency division duplex) mode.
More than two dozen carriers globally already are using HSPA in their networks.