Infonetics: HSPA+ still has a long life despite LTE rollouts

Despite ongoing LTE rollouts worldwide, older wireless air interfaces such as EDGE and HSPA will remain workhorses for many 3GPP operators, according to Infonetics Research.

"EDGE and HSPA/HSPA+ have a long tail and remain strong despite the onslaught of LTE deployments. However, some of the HSPA+ traction we saw among mobile operators last year is diminishing because of the current move to LTE, which we qualify as the second wave of rollouts characterized by hundreds of small footprints," said Stephane Teral, the firm's principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics.

He added that operators rolling out LTE will continue to rely upon 3G technologies to maintain the user experience when customers move outside of LTE coverage areas. To that end, many networks will "require serious HSPA+ upgrades," Teral said.

Infonetics noted there is a widespread move to higher iterations of HSPA+, such as Releases 9, 10 and 11.

The research firm recently interviewed independent wireless, incumbent, and competitive operators that operate 3GPP networks, meaning CDMA-only operators were not included. Its survey revealed that operators are rapidly shifting to all-IP radio access networks (RANs) to gain cost reductions as well as greater operational and energy efficiency. According to the Infonetics, 63 percent of the operators surveyed already have a single IP RAN deployed and running.

Infonetics also found that nearly 75 percent of survey respondents are running EDGE networks to enable new services and enhance user experience. However, those operators that do not have EDGE also do not see a need for it. "Support for evolved EDGE continues to erode: A large majority of survey respondents have no plans to deploy it," the firm said.

Infonetics survey respondents ranked the top three RAN equipment suppliers as, in order, Huawei, Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) and Nokia (NYSE:NOK). In December last year, ABI Research reported that Huawei had maintained its number one ranking rank in the global radio access network (RAN) market with a share of 28.1 percent by the end of the third quarter. Ericsson was in second position, followed by Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia's networks business, formerly known as Nokia Solutions and Networks.  

For more:
- see this Infonetics release

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