LTE deployments will pick up over the next few years and lead to 87 million LTE subscribers by 2014, according to the trade group, the GSMA. However, the GSMA also thinks that HSPA technology will have a long shelf life and will keep on growing even as more operators begin adopting LTE.
"HSPA is becoming comparable to GSM and W-CDMA," Dan Warren, the GSMA's director of technology, said in an interview with Unstrung. "Its commercial lifespan is very long." He said that the number of HSPA connections worldwide will grow from around 167 million to around a billion by 2012 and 1.5 billion in 2014. By that time, LTE will have taken off, the GSMA predicts, but Warren said expects HSPA to still be widely used.
As more operators and vendors transition to an IMS-based approach for voice and SMS over LTE, carriers will still need to use legacy 2G and 3G networks for voice coverage and as "fall back" mobile broadband networks, Warren said.
There are more than a dozen operators worldwide that have made commitments to deploy LTE between 2010 and 2012, including Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and MetroPCS in the United States. Yet carriers--including AT&T and T-Mobile USA--are still in the process of filling out and upgrading their HSPA networks to handle faster data speeds. AT&T is currently beginning to upgrade its network to HSPA 7.2 technology, and next year T-Mobile will begin deploying HSPA+ technology.
- see this Unstrung article
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