Momentum Grows Behind Mobile Broadband At 850MHz

850MHz accounts for more than 40% of global HSPA connections

The number of mobile broadband (HSPA) connections in the 850MHz frequency band worldwide has leapt to more than 13 million from 1.3 million one year ago thanks to rapid growth in the Americas and Australia, according to Wireless Intelligence, a unit of the GSMA, the global body for the mobile industry. This fast growing market is attracting more handset manufacturers and helping them achieve economies of scale, driving down the cost of 850MHz phones and other devices for consumers. There are now 44 companies producing 133 HSPA devices compatible with the 850MHz band.

Use of the existing GSM bands, such as 850MHz and 900MHz, and other low frequency bands enables mobile operators to expand broadband coverage much more cost-effectively than they can using higher frequencies. Radio signals travel much further at these frequencies than they do at 2100MHz, the other main band currently used for HSPA mobile broadband services, reducing the number of base stations required to cover any given area.

“The strong demand for mobile broadband services at 850MHz in the Americas and 900MHz in Europe and elsewhere, combined with the broad geographic coverage provided by these networks, underlines the huge potential of low frequency spectrum bands to bring broadband to many more people,” said Tom Phillips, Chief Government & Regulatory Affairs Officer of the GSMA. Another potential source of low frequency spectrum are the bands currently used for analogue terrestrial television broadcasting. “The switchover to digital television has created a golden opportunity for governments worldwide to allocate more low frequency spectrum to mobile services and close the digital divide between urban and rural areas,” added Mr. Phillips.

There are now more than 18 HSPA networks at 850MHz worldwide. The GSMA expects that number to continue to grow as operators in the Americas look to upgrade their GSM networks operating at that frequency. According to Wireless Intelligence, there are now 309 million GSM connections at 850MHz worldwide.

“Using the 850 MHz spectrum band, Telstra rapidly deployed a highly advanced nationwide mobile broadband network – the Telstra Next G™ network,” said Mike Wright, Telstra’s Executive Director of Wireless. “This week, we will commence the world’s first network trial, with our partner Ericsson, of HSPA+ at 850MHz, providing speeds of 21 Mbps and beyond. We are planning to commence deployment of network download speeds of up to 21 Mbps by the end of this year.”

“AT&T has delivered HSPA service at 850 MHz wherever possible, with more on the way this year as we redeploy additional 850 spectrum previously used for our TDMA network,” said Kris Rinne, Senior Vice President, Architecture and Planning, AT&T. “More high-quality spectrum added to our HSPA network creates a tremendous advantage for our customers. AT&T included the ability for devices to leverage the 850 spectrum for HSPA beginning with our initial launch in 2005.”

About the GSMA:

The GSM Association (GSMA) is the global trade association representing more than 750 GSM mobile phone operators across 218 countries and territories of the world. The Association’s members represent more than 3 billion GSM and 3GSM connections – over 86% of the world’s mobile phone connections. In addition, more than 200 manufacturers and suppliers support the Association’s initiatives as key partners.

The primary goals of the GSMA are to ensure mobile phones and wireless services work globally and are easily accessible, enhancing their value to individual customers and national economies, while creating new business opportunities for operators and their suppliers.

For further information contact:
David Pringle

GSM Association
Email: [email protected]