The pace of commercialisation of UMTS 900 systems has quickened, according to a new Information Paper published by GSA, the Global mobile Suppliers Association.
The majority of 3G/UMTS (WCDMA-HSPA) systems deployments are in the 2100 MHz band (IMT-2000 core band), particularly in Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa. Radio propagation path-loss at 900 MHz is much lower.
Deployment of UMTS systems at this lower frequency band (UMTS 900) results in extended coverage in rural areas, and better indoor coverage, at lower cost.
For the same service offering and coverage, the number of base station sites in the 900 MHz band can be reduced by 60% compared to those needed for 2100 MHz, thereby saving money and speeding up roll-out.
GSA's latest UMTS 900 Information Paper confirms that three UMTS 900 systems have entered commercial service in Estonia, Finland and Thailand. Six manufacturers have launched 20 UMTS 900 user devices (compared to seven devices announced by mid-April 2008), all of which support dual band HSPA 900/2100 MHz operation for interworking on UMTS networks.
All 20 devices support at least 3.6 Mbps peak HSDPA capability: seven devices support 7.2 Mbps peak, while 15 UMTS 900 devices are mobile phones, three are USB modems (dongles), one an embedded module and one PC datacard.
Several more UMTS 900 networks are in deployment, planned or under consideration in Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.
Use of the 900 MHz band in Europe is covered by the GSM Directive. Several countries are responding to a call by the European Commission for a more flexible approach to the use of these frequencies to permit their use for 3G/UMTS services. A similar approach is also being taken in other markets, including Asia Pacific and elsewhere.
The performance benefits and cost efficiencies are similar to what has been seen with WCDMA-HSPA systems operating at 850 MHz, which are widely available in the Americas and Australia.
The UMTS 900 Information Paper published by GSA is available as a free download at http://www.gsacom.com/gsm_3g/info_papers.php4