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White Paper on 3GPP Release 7 to Release 8
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11th July , 2007

US : 3G Americas, a wireless industry group supporting the GSM family of technologies in the Americas, today published "UMTS Evolution from 3GPP Release 7 to Release 8: HSPA and SAE/LTE." The paper highlights the recent activity on Release 7 as it nears its completion in the 3GPP technology standardization process, and provides a detailed overview of the enhanced features of Release 8, explaining the leading evolutionary roadmap for the GSM family of technologies to 3G and beyond. The 3GPP Release 7 and 8 standards work is largely driven by the rising demand for wireless data services, and this is evident in the growth of data services revenues worldwide. Enabling this growth is the UMTS/HSPA technology which is firmly established as the high speed advanced technology roadmap for 2.5 billion customers served by GSM operators worldwide. The GSM technology family represents 85% of the world's wireless subscribers.

Operators have aggressively rolled out HSDPA in the last twelve months to serve the growing demands for advanced wireless data services. The number of operator deployments of HSDPA has increased by 200% in the last year, from 41 HSDPA networks to 127 commercial HSDPA networks today in 60 countries. Overall, there are 174 total deployments of UMTS technology in 73 countries and more than 250 commercial HSDPA devices available worldwide today. Several HSUPA networks have been initially deployed in Asia and Europe, and it is expected that most UMTS/HSDPA operators will deploy HSUPA, with a high volume of deployments occurring in 2008. With a wide variety of devices and worldwide network deployments in place, customers are pushing for speed and applications to satisfy their demand for services such as, web browsing, email, mobile payments, interactive gaming and video sharing. In fact, Informa Telecoms & Media estimates that there are nearly 135 million UMTS customers worldwide today, millions of whom are enjoying the benefits of the HSDPA enhancement, and these numbers are quickly growing.

This newly published 3G Americas' white paper "UMTS Evolution from 3GPP Release 7 to Release 8: HSPA and SAE/LTE" explains the deployment status of UMTS and HSPA technologies, as well as the detailed standards progress and expected technology performance of the technologies.

There has been significant progress on Release 7 standards over the course of 2006-2007 and vendors are proceeding well in the development of the future commercial introduction of Release 7 or HSPA Evolution (HSPA+). Release 7 will bring improved support and performance for real-time conversational and interactive services such as picture and video sharing, and Voice and Video over IP. The white paper describes the important new additions to the concept of HSPA+, such as Enhanced Receivers, Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO), Continuous Packet Connectivity (CPC) and Higher Order Modulations (HOMs). Since HSPA+ enhancements are fully backwards compatible with Rel-99/Rel-5/Rel-6, the upgrade to HSPA+ has been made smooth and evolutionary for GSM operators. Release 7 also standardizes Evolved EDGE which will improve the user experience across all wireless data services by reducing latency and increasing data throughput and capacity. Evolved EDGE will ensure transparency between EDGE and HSPA as well as future LTE-based services. The Evolved EDGE standards development will also continue in Release 8.

While the standards work continues on the evolution of HSPA in Release 8, another area of focus in Release 8 is the introduction of a new OFDM-based technology through the Long Term Evolution (LTE) work item, often referred to as the Evolved UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access Network (EUTRAN). In parallel, 3GPP has progressed on the standards development and definition of a new flatter-IP core network to support the EUTRAN through the System Architecture Evolution (SAE) work item, which has recently been renamed the Evolved Packet System (EPS) Architecture. The combination of LTE and SAE/EPS provides the long term vision for 3GPP to an all-IP, packet-only OFDM-based system expected to further improve performance by providing higher data rates, improved spectral efficiency and reduced latency. 3GPP recently reported LTE's peak theoretical downlink throughput rates of up to 326 Mbps in 2X20 MHz with 4X4 MIMO. Based upon some vendors' UMTS/HSPA infrastructure being deployed in 2007, operators may be able to migrate to LTE through a straightforward upgrade. The first field trials for LTE are planned for 2008, with commercial availability in 2009.

"It is evident that the HSPA technology as defined in 3GPP Release 5 and 6 has, in a very short time period, created a self-supporting and rapidly enhanced development structure," stated Chris Pearson, President of 3G Americas. "This ecosystem thrives with the GSM family of technology's global presence and abundance of devices and services. This in turn drives the expansion of coverage, the addition of applications and devices to the market, network enhancements, progress in the evolutionary roadmap and further economies of scale -- the circle of technology life that provides for continued GSM market leadership."

The "UMTS Evolution from 3GPP Release 7 to Release 8: HSPA and SAE/LTE" white paper was collaboratively developed by 3G Americas' board member companies and is available for free download at the 3G Americas' website: www.3gamericas.org. The paper includes appendices of UMTS and HSPA deployments worldwide.


Terminology of the GSM Evolution

Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), also known as WCDMA: The GSM evolution to Third Generation (3G) high speed wireless data services, adopted worldwide as the leading wireless standard. UMTS represents an evolution from GSM Second Generation (2G) mobile networks in terms of capacity, data speeds and new service capabilities. It is an Internet Protocol-based (IP) technology that supports packetized voice and data, delivers theoretical peak data rates of up to 2 Mbps, and average speeds of 220-320 Kbps for UMTS Release '99. Additional benefits of UMTS include simultaneous voice and data capability for users, high user densities that can be supported with low infrastructure cost due to the scope and scale of 2.5 billion GSM/UMTS customers, and support for high-bandwidth data applications.

High Speed Packet Access (HSPA): A nomenclature for developments encompassing both directions of information transmission -- the downlink (HSDPA) and the uplink (HSUPA) directions. HSPA is an enhancement to UMTS and offers a successful combination of spectral efficiency (4-5 times that of UMTS) and high speed data throughput thus enabling true mass market mobile broadband. HSDPA users today experience throughput rates in excess of 1 Mbps with favorable conditions and this will increase with planned improvements to HSPDA. HSUPA users will experience peak user achievable rates close to 1 Mbps in the uplink under favorable conditions, and low latency (less than 100 ms). HSPA also lowers an operators' cost per bit, enabling cost-effective, rich multimedia services.

Evolved EDGE: The EDGE evolution is expected to enable operators the opportunity to upgrade their EDGE networks to improve service coverage and more than double spectral efficiency for EDGE, reduce latency to less than 80 ms, and increase data rates to a peak theoretical rate per user of 1 Mbps for the downlink and 500 Kbps for the uplink.

HSPA Evolution (HSPA+): HSPA+ is a study item of 3GPP with a goal of creating a highly optimized version of HSPA that employs Release 7 features and other incremental features such as interference cancelization and optimization to reduce latency. HSPA+ would enable operators to capitalize on existing RAN infrastructure investments, as well as possibly leverage the use of the SAE core with the current radio interface in 2 x 5 MHz spectrum. Depending on the features implemented, HSPA+ could match, and possibly exceed, the potential performance and capability of IEEE 802.16e - 2005 (mobile WiMAX) in the same amount of spectrum, and could match LTE performance in 5 MHz.

System Architecture Evolution (SAE): The 3GPP work item for SAE or Evolved Packet System (EPS) develops a framework for a higher-data-rate, lower-latency, packet-optimized system that supports multiple radio access technologies with a focus on the packet-switched domain to support voice services. The main drivers for the network evolution are: to be able to meet the targets for the evolution of the radio-interface (LTE), to enable the evolution towards an all-IP network, and to support mobility and service continuity between heterogeneous access networks.

Long Term Evolution (LTE): The 3GPP work item on the Long Term Evolution (LTE) or EUTRAN (Evolved Universal Terrestrial Radio Access Network) or the Air-Interface Evolution will develop a framework for a high-data-rate, low-latency and packet-optimized OFDMA radio-access technology. Products are expected to be commercially available in 2009.

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