BARCELONA, SPAIN — The GSMA today announced that HSPA Mobile Broadband connections have increased by 100 percent year-on-year, passing 400 million globally, according to figures from Wireless Intelligence. There are now more than 17 million HSPA connections being added each month around the world, compared to nearly 9 million a month in the same period last year. LTE, the next-generation Mobile Broadband technology, is also set to experience rapid growth over the next few years, rising from 4.2 million connections in 24 countries by the end of this year, to almost 300 million connections in 55 countries by 2015.
"Over the past 12 months operators around the world have invested more than $70 billion* in Mobile Broadband infrastructure and network upgrades, driving strong momentum for HSPA and paving the way for LTE to gain real traction," said Michael O'Hara, chief marketing officer at the GSMA. "HSPA has achieved great success since it was first deployed in 2005, and to date is the fastest-growing wireless technology ever. 2011 is also set to be the tipping point for LTE, with network deployments in 24 countries and the commercial availability of the first LTE-based smartphones and tablets driving more than four million connections."
The rapid growth of Mobile Broadband is driven by demand for the latest devices, applications and services, and enables users to access any type of content on the move. Mobile Broadband will also facilitate a wide variety of socio-economic benefits, especially in countries lacking fixed-line broadband infrastructure, which will empower education, improve health services, increase trade and drive innovation.
LTE is set to out-perform most fixed-line broadband networks by delivering very fast, highly responsive connectivity with peak rate speeds of up to 100Mbps. However, for LTE to achieve the same success as HSPA, governments need to ensure that suitable spectrum is released in a timely and harmonised way. This will allow LTE to generate vast economies of scale, driving down the cost of equipment and handsets. Spectrum best suited for LTE includes the 2.5-2.6GHz band, which has been identified globally by the ITU as the '3G extension band', and 'digital dividend' spectrum in the 700-800MHz band, freed up from the switchover to digital television.
As operators wait for spectrum for LTE to be released, many will continue to use HSPA as their primary Mobile Broadband technology. More than 2,900 devices from 200 suppliers support HSPA and there are now 341 live HSPA networks across 132 countries worldwide. Moreover, HSPA is a highly capable and cost-effective technology that can be upgraded to HSPA+, enabling peak speeds of between 21Mbps and 42Mbps. With additional spectrum, HSPA+ can even reach peak speeds of 84Mbps. There are currently 76 HSPA+ networks deployed in 43 countries with a further 52 networks planned worldwide, according to Wireless Intelligence.
The industry research firm also predicts that LTE is likely to experience its most rapid growth from 2012, when the majority of operators launch their networks and Voice over LTE (VoLTE) becomes available. The GSMA is leading an industry-wide push to establish VoLTE as the unified approach to delivering voice communications and rich services such as video telephony over LTE. Together with Verizon, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, LG and Samsung, the GSMA will be showing this progress at Mobile World Congress including live demonstrations of VoLTE using LTE smartphones over demonstration networks that leverage commercial IMS/LTE components.
"A tremendous amount of work by Verizon and its partners resulted in the first successful VoLTE call over a commercial network last week," said Tony Melone, chief technology officer at Verizon. "This momentum accelerates this week with the GSMA, as we continue down the path of giving customers the best calling experience and making VoLTE the standard for voice over LTE and a commercial reality next year."
Momentum for VoLTE will be further demonstrated at a GSMA-backed interoperability test event in September 2011. The event is being coordinated by MSF, an industry body that develops test specifications for multiservice next-generation networks, and hosted by Vodafone and China Mobile, two of the world's largest operators, at Vodafone's test centre in Dusseldorf and China Mobile's research laboratory in Beijing. *Deutsche Bank's 2010 forecast on Mobile Broadband CAPEX covers spend on technologies including HSPA/HSPA+, WCDMA and EVDO/CDMA.
About the GSMA The GSMA represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry. Spanning 219 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world's mobile operators, as well as more than 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media and entertainment organisations. The GSMA is focused on innovating, incubating and creating new opportunities for its membership, all with the end goal of driving the growth of the mobile communications industry.