The pace of commercialisation of UMTS 900 systems has quickened, according to a new Information Paper published by GSA, the Global mobile Suppliers Association.
The majority of 3G/UMTS i.e. WCDMA-HSPA systems deployments are in the 2100 MHz band (IMT-2000 core band), particularly in Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa. Radio propagation path-loss at 900 MHz is much lower.
Deployment of UMTS systems at this lower frequency band (UMTS 900) results in better coverage both in terms of extended coverage in rural areas, as well as significantly improved indoor coverage, at much lower cost.
For the same service offering and coverage, the number of base station sites in the 900 MHz band can be reduced by 60% compared to that needed for 2100 MHz, and reduce rollout time.
WCDMA-HSPA at 900 MHz can complement 2100 MHz deployments by improving coverage, reducing CAPEX, improving Quality of Service and the user experience.
GSA’s latest UMTS 900 Information Paper confirms that 3 UMTS 900 systems have entered commercial service, in Estonia, Finland and Thailand.
Also, 6 manufacturers have launched 20 UMTS 900 user devices (compared to 7 devices announced by mid-April 2008), all of which support dual band HSPA 900/2100 MHz operation for seamless interworking on UMTS networks.
All 20 devices support at least 3.6 Mbps peak HSDPA capability, and 7 devices support 7.2 Mbps peak. Fifteen UMTS 900 devices are mobile phones, plus 3 USB modems (“dongles”), 1 embedded module, and 1 PC datacard.
Several more UMTS 900 networks are in deployment, planned or under consideration in Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK.
Alan Hadden, President of GSA, said: “With UMTS 900, network operators can provide HSPA mobile broadband services in a very cost-efficient way. Now there is a substantial commitment and focus on UMTS 900 by network operators, infrastructure vendors and device suppliers, and we expect more service launches in the second half of this year.”
Use of the 900 MHz band in Europe is covered by the GSM Directive. Several countries are responding to a call by the European Commission for a more flexible approach to the use of these frequencies to permit their use for 3G/UMTS services. A similar approach is also being taken in other markets, including Asia Pacific and elsewhere.
The performance benefits and cost efficiencies are similar to what has been seen with WCDMA-HSPA systems operating at 850 MHz, which are widely available in the Americas and Australia.