HSPDA in China

Posted by Sam Churchill on

At the China 2005 trade show, today — (or is that tomorrow) — Lucent Technologies announced it successfully completed the first field trial of High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) technology in China. They demonstrated live TV and video-on-demand services – on a trial network deployed by China Netcom in Shanghai.

The HSDPA-enabled 3G trial network is supporting live demonstrations at the Lucent booth at the trade show. Lucent demonstrated DVD-quality streaming video and fast downloads of large files. The network is based on Lucent’s end-to-end commercial W-CDMA (also known as UMTS), which incorporates the latest HSDPA upgrades. HSDPA (wikipedia) is a high speed data extension of 3G (W-CDMA).

Lucent provided its Flexent OneBTS base stations (above). Lucent’s HSDPA solution is currently capable of supporting peak data speeds of up to 7.6 Megabits per second (Mbps), however the maximum speeds supported by the current generation of mobile devices is 1.8 Mbps. Future upgrades of HSDPA will provide theoretical maximum peak data speeds of up to 14.4 Mbps.

Lucent is accelerating the commercial deployment of HSDPA technology by offering a seamless upgrade path to HSDPA via its W-CDMA platform.

Cingular ran its first HSDPA U.S. tests in January, and has been promising that it’ll have the new network up in 15-20 cities by the end of the year. In November 2004 Cingular Wireless announced that it would commercially launch UMTS-based, high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) services in 2005.

Cingular Wireless, based in Atlanta, is the largest wireless carrier in the United States serving more than 49.1 million subscribers. Cingular has carried out extensive field trials with Lucent Technology in Atlanta in mid-2004. This trial used the spectrum in the 1.9GHz band, and end-to-end network equipment from Lucent, including Merlin U520 UMTS PC modem cards, which were developed by Lucent Technology and Novatel Wireless.

HSDPA is really only a software upgrade from conventional UMTS gear. But even “standard” 3G (W-CDMA), will require a major change. It needs 5 Mhz channels instead of the 1.25Mhz channels used by nearly every cellular carrier in the United States today. New basestations and handsets will be necessary.

High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (Nokia and Siemens), promises to deliver faster speeds than it’s EV-DO competitors. HSPDA combines Adaptive Modulation/Coding (AMC) and fast packet scheduling. Traditionally, 3G systems used power control to maintain link reliability. HSDPA holds the transmission power constant and uses adaptive modulation and coding (AMC) for link adaptation.

Cingular’s network expansion in the United States will be handled by Lucent Technologies, Ericsson and Siemens. The company intends to build upon AT&T Wireless’s six-market UMTS launches to begin the expansion of a major city and suburban 3G network during 2005, which should allow nationwide coverage in most metropolitan areas by the end of 2006.

Other recent developments in HSPDA:

Of course, China has their own 3G standard: TD-SCDMA. It uses a single frequency for both up and down channel links. The International TD-SCDMA Summit held in Beijing last April, brought together key players in the wireless industry.

TD-SCDMA is a challenger to two better-known technologies, GSM-based W-CDMA and CDMA-based 1XRTT & EV-DO (CDMA2000). All three third- generation standards provide much higher speed access, but the Chinese standard is still a largely unknown quantity according to Tang Ru’an, chief operating officer of Datang Mobile, who is developing the technology with Siemens and others.

Developed largely by Datang Mobile and Siemens, TD-SCDMA is said to provide Chinese operators with a standard that will enable the migration from existing GSM/GPRS networks to the third generation functionality without major infrastructure changes.

Calling the initial trial results “disappointing”, the China Daily reported that tests of the TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access) technology showed phones could only be used to make voice calls and send short text messages. The tests were “less successful” when making video calls or downloading video clips, the report said, citing unnamed industry sources.

The China Daily report blamed the problems on shortcomings in TD-SCDMA handsets, which it said are not yet ready for commercial production. Plans to issue 3G licenses in China are dependent on several factors, including the availability of TD-SCDMA technology and a planned restructuring of China’s telecommunications industry.

ZTE and Ericsson have a strategic alliance, Alcatel is investing $32 million in Datang Mobile and Philips and Samsung have formed a joint venture to develop and market TD-SCDMA in China.

China Mobile Communications, the world’s largest mobile operator, with about 70% of China’s more than 200 million mobile phone subscribers, is unlikely to adopt the homegrown Chinese standard for mobile phones, the technology’s chief backer said last year.

Analysts believe China Telecom and China Netcom, now mainly fixed-line operators, are more likely candidates to eventually adopt the TD-SCDMA standard. If they don’t go with WiBro or HSPDA, that is.

Related DailyWireless stories include; CDMA vs OFDM, HSPDA Tests, HSPDA & WiMax Living Together?, HSPDA Demos, Sprint Commits to EV-DO, T-Mobile Considering HSPDA?, Wi-Bro Does China?, Cingular’s 3G Network, 3G in Dallas & San Diego, AT&T Launches 3G and The Telecommunications Horse Race.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005 at 1:38 am .

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