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2004 was the year that WCDMA got rolling with services and handsets reaching the mass market. The drivers for operators to deploy WCDMA are operating cost, capacity for increased revenue opportunities, and the best user experience of 3G services. WCDMA take-up is faster than GSM was at the same stage of its introduction. Over 50% of WCDMA license holders globally have brought their 3G services to the market, with new commercial launches being announced regularly.
EDGE is also delivering 3G services in markets globally, and is increasingly deployed together with WCDMA for optimum coverage, performance and flexibility and the best user experience. Over 50% of the world's commercial GPRS networks have committed to the EDGE upgrade.
An increasing number of GSM operators are delivering 3G services on a combined WCDMA/EDGE network. WCDMA and EDGE are complementary technologies ensuring lower capital cost and optimum flexibility and efficiencies. At least 40 WCDMA operators are also deploying GSM/EDGE in their networks for service continuity and the best user experience of voice and enhanced data services throughout their networks. EDGE/WCDMA launches are being helped by technology such as Adaptive Multi-Rate (AMR) coders in networks and handsets, which is improving the user experience of quality and coverage of voice services. Color displays, integrated cameras, improved browser capabilities and Java support have become standard features in new phones, while dozens of EDGE networks are being deployed for enhanced data experience and revenues.
An enhancement to WCDMA known as High Speed Downlink Packet Access - HSDPA, delivers a similar boost for WCDMA as EDGE does for GSM/GPRS. HSDPA boosts the air interface capacity by 2 times and delivers a 5-fold increase in data speeds in the downlink direction, with peak data speeds to 10.7 Mbps. HSDPA also shortens round-trip time between network and terminals and reduces variance in downlink transmission delay. These performance improvements are achieved by:
- bringing key functions e.g. scheduling of data packet transmission and processing of etransmissions into the base station - i.e. closer to the air interface
- using a short frame length to further accelerate packet scheduling for transmission
- employing incremental redundancy for minimizing the air-interface load caused by retransmissions
- adopting a new transport channel type - High Speed Downlink Shared Channel (HS-DSCH) to facilitate air interface channel sharing between several users
- adapting the modulation scheme and coding according to the quality of the radio link
Commercial release of HSDPA is anticipated from 2H 2005. HSDPA will enable operators to deliver more advanced mobile broadband services such as Internet and corporate access. Its unprecedented data rates will allow users to download audio, video and large files or attachments significantly faster than currently possible. The large demand for broadband access, strong growth of laptop penetration combined with full mobility and wide-area coverage of WCDMA networks offers an attractive business opportunity for operators today.
All WCDMA operators are expected to deploy HSDPA. The upgrade path from WCDMA to HSDPA is easy, as base stations typically only require a software upgrade. Today's GSM scale economies will be available with HSDPA in the coming years.
EDGE is expected to evolve in performance and capabilities, driven by operator pressures for:
- even lower cost of services delivery
- higher revenue streams enabled by new real time services which require higher bitrates and better real time capabilities, such as video and VoIP services
- GSM/EDGE-WCDMA interworking enhancements
GSA has announced its support of EDGE Evolution. 3GPP GERAN launched a feasibility study in April 2005 to decide on key features for standardization; candidate work items include:
- Dual Antenna Interference Cancellation - DAIC, which reduces the impact of radio interference to bitrates, which would increase average bit rates and extend radio coverage
- Dual carrier - allowing one end user to be assigned the use of timeslots from 2 carriers, increasing average and peak bitrates
- Dual Symbol Rate - enabling use of wider band carrier for higher average and peak bitrates
- Functionality to reduce latency times
- 2 - 3 times increase in EDGE bitrates
- 2 - 3 times spectral efficiency gain (for voice and data capacity)
- halve the latency (roundtrip time)
- The cost aspects of deploying EDGE in the network
- Reducing EDGE Rollout costs
- The strategic issues behind the cost implications
- EDGE market update
- Evolution of EDGE in phases
- Why HSDPA is a natural progression for operators with EDGE
- Analyzing the relationship between HSDPA and EDGE
- Evolution of EDGE and WCDMA
- Challenges of HSDPA implementation
Joris Tinbergen, Telfort
- Implementing EDGE to Upgrade Existing Networks
- Examining the Positive Effects of EDGE on Network Performance
- Discussing Results from the Field
- Additional benefits of Using EDGE for Voice
- Impact of GERAN Evolution on Network capacity and Quality
Leonardo Provvedi, Roke Manor Research Ltd
MOBTEL, Serbia and Montenegro
Presentation, EDGE conference, Prague - January 25-26, 2006
Latest statistics and charts covering GSM, EDGE, WCDMA and HSDPA market development and technology deployments.
WCDMA Databank for details about deployments, devices, networks and subscribers.
EDGE Databank for market updates, technology, deployments and device information.
Key information about topics such as Adaptive Multi Rate Coder, Push to Talk, etc.
GSA is a Market Representation Partner in 3GPP. Updates here.