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3 Mobile Upgrades UK Network with 42Mbps Capable Evolved HSPA Tech

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 (11:05 am) - Score 964

Mobile operator Three UK (3UK) has engaged in a spot of potentially very misleading marketing today by announcing the rollout of a “4GHSPA+ ( Evolved HSPA ) technology upgrade that will increase the services maximum Mobile Broadband download speeds from up to 21Mbps (current) to 42Mbps. Except that’s not 4G, not even close.

The operator claims that its upgrade will be 4G simply because T-Mobile in the USA decided to describe it as such. “But let’s be absolutely clear – this isn’t 4G as in Long Term Evolution, or LTE as it’s also known,” said Three’s Phil Sheppard. In fact not even LTE is 4G. According to the ITU, only LTE-Advanced and WiMAX2 qualify as 4G (here) because they’re the only ones that can deliver up to 1Gbps (1000Mbps) in a low mobility environment.

Setting that aside for now. The 42Mbps HSPA+ upgrade is apparently already up and running as a test along a small part of the M3 corridor and South West London. A nationwide rollout is expected to commence later this summer 2012.

Three UK’s Phil Sheppard said:

HSPA+ “4G” will deliver huge benefits for our customers. The obvious one is speed, with massive improvements in both download and upload speed. Because the technology uses dual carrier equipment – meaning it can latch onto two signals at the same time and transmit and receive double the data – it will also improve capacity across the network too.

Again, for our customers, this will mean more consistent speeds especially in busy areas and at peak times of the day. As our customers use more and more data, moving to HSPA+ will help us create the capacity to continue to offer a great service.”

The good news is that Three (3) has also announced that it will be running a Long Term Evolution (LTE) trial in the “next few months“, which is likely to be conducted via the 800MHz spectrum band (i.e. the one they want to buy at Ofcom’s Q4-2012 auction).

Sheppard admits that any resulting commercial service is “still more than a year away at the earliest,” which is correct. Ofcom does not expect the auction and spectrum release process to complete until the very end of 2013.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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