T-Mobile USA, the nation's fourth largest wireless carrier, said it will support a new standard that promises to make HSPA technology faster and more efficient. The standard, dubbed Long Term HSPA Evolution, is the eleventh iteration of the technology, and promises peak, theoretical speeds of up to 650 Mbps via a 40 MHz channel.
T-Mobile and partner Nokia Siemens Networks said "key features" of the Long Term HSPA Evolution standard were accepted during a meeting of the 3GPP standards group earlier this month. NSN and T-Mobile said detailed specification work on the new standard will take place in the 3GPP's working groups, and that other Long Term HSPA Evolution features "are expected to be considered in subsequent 3GPP meetings." The companies said they expect the standard to be ready for commercial deployment by 2013. Ericsson, the world's largest infrastructure vendor, said it too is working on the standard.
In a statement about the new standard, a T-Mobile executive appeared to confirm the carrier plans to implement the technology at some unspecified point in the future.
"We strongly believe in continued HSPA evolution in parallel to the further development of LTE and LTE Advanced," said Neville Ray, T-Mobile's CTO. "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."
In response to questions for clarification, Mark McDiarmid, senior director in engineering and operations at T-Mobile, issued this statement: "While we don't have details to share regarding specific plans for deployment at this time, you can expect that as a company, T-Mobile will continue to support technologies that improve customer experience and drive spectrum efficiency."
T-Mobile has centered much of its efforts on prolonging the usefulness of its existing, 3G network. The company is in the process of upgrading its HSPA network to HSPA+ technology, which the carrier markets as providing 4G speeds. Further, T-Mobile has said it will upgrade its network next year to HSPA 42 technology, which provides theoretical peak speeds of 42 Mbps.
According to a white paper issued by Nokia Siemens, T-Mobile's planned HSPA 42 Mbps network represents "Release 8" of the network technology. Releases 9 and 10 provide faster speeds and MIMO technology, and Release 11 and beyond is dubbed Long Term HSPA Evolution technology. "The evolution of HSPA beyond Release 10 will push the peak data rates to rival those provided by LTE Advanced," Nokia Siemens Networks stated in its white paper.
While T-Mobile continues to tinker with its existing network, its rivals are casting their eyes to LTE. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has launched LTE in 38 cities across the country, covering 110 million people, and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) has said it plans to launch LTE next year, covering around 70 million to 75 million people by the end of 2011.
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Article updated Dec. 16 with response from T-Mobile.