HSPA will retain dominance for next five years despite LTE hype – Study

Despite the hype around Long Term Evolution (LTE) high-speed mobile broadband technology, High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) will retain its dominance for at least the next five years, according to a study by UK-based telecoms industry analyst, Ovum.

Forecasts from the independent telecoms analyst show that HSPA connections will hit 1.87 billion by 2015 and grow at a compound annual growth rate of 46 per cent.

HSPA is the technology that powers third generation (3G) mobile and broadband services, and LTE is one of two technologies that power fourth generation (4G) services; the other being WiMAX.

Ovum’s Principal Analyst Julien Grivolas who authored the new report, said “with LTE grabbing so much attention it is easy to ignore the fact that HSPA is a firmly established technology with a mature infrastructure and device ecosystem.

He said HSPA’s other advantage is that it has a natural upgrade path in the form of the enhanced HSPA+, which is being deployed in ever-greater volumes in 2010 and will keep getting better and better.

“Indeed, HSPA+ and its future enhancements could be sufficient for many operators’ needs for the next five years,” Grivolas added.

Grivolas noted that there is a huge amount of hype surrounding LTE and we expect it to really take off in 2012, but HSPA will not go out of fashion and mobile operators are not about to turn their backs on it anytime soon.

He said the technology is continuing to evolve and operators will keep enhancing their networks for as long as it makes good economic sense.”

According to the report, LTE will become the dominant technology in the future, but HSPA will not disappear and many operators are in no rush to migrate.

Grivolas said HSPA+ and its enhanced evolutions should not be viewed as competitors to LTE, but rather as complementary technologies, adding that ultimately, the availability of spectrum is certainly an issue that will have a strong bearing on the commercial success of LTE, as its availability is fundamental to service launches.

He said with that in mind, it may pay for operators to hang back and let others invest in the development of the ecosystem and make mistakes first.

Meanwhile, another report from In-Stat forecasts that LTE growth will face a bumpy road but is expected to reach 115 million subscribers worldwide by 2014, four years from now.

The report noted that for starters there will be challenges clearance for spectrum and licensing, saying that since every country has its own telecommunications regulations, these factors will take varying periods of time to be resolved.

The report says between now and 2014, LTE dominance will be in the United States.

By Samuel Dowuona

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