Telus tweaks HSPA network to 4G standards

A new dual cell (DC) upgrade to Telus’ HSPA (high speed packet access) network bumps up the networks’ capability to support download speeds of up to 42 megabits per second (mbps) and uploads of up to 11 mbps.

This gives the recently launched Telus DC-HSPA+ a 4G network status under a recent International Telecommunications Union (ITU) decision to lower the standards for 4G networks, according to Eros Spadotto, executive vice president  of technology strategy for Telus.

“This upgrade means our customers can enjoy faster speeds whether they are downloading movies, staying in touch with family and friends or running a business and accessing information and applications,” said Spadotto during a media briefing at the Telus Testing Lab in Toronto.

Telus’ previous HSPA network, Spadotto said, was capable of maximum speeds of 21 Mbps. “What we did was patch that single channel with another channel to double the speed,” he said.

Related story – ‘4G’ joins ‘HD’ as meaningless marketing label

The recently launched DC–HSPA+ network is rated at 42 Mbps for downloads and up to 11 Mbps for uploads. That is good enough to be considered a 4G network under current ITU standard which lowered the barrier for 4G networks to include speeds as low as 10 Mbps, said Spadotto.

DC-HSPA+ is stepping stone to LTE

The first device that Telus is making available for the new Dual Cell capability is the Sierra Wireless AirCard 319U 4G Internet Key. The Internet key will be available to Telus customers in March.

Within the year, Spadotto said, several 4G-capable smartphone devices will be added to the lineup.

The dual cell network launched by Telus will serve as a stepping stone to the much faster LTE (Long Term Evolution) network, according to Spadotto. LTE specifications cand provide for download peak rates of at least 100 mbps and upload speeds of at least 50 mbps.

“We continue to work on LTE but devices for that you won’t begin to see until 2015,” the Telus executive said.

Spadotto, did not deny the marketing boost Telus got with the ITU redefinition of 4G. Other companies that are marketing their networks as 4G include T-Mobile (a HSPA+ network) and Sprint (a WiMax network).

4G lite may be fast enough

Despite the possibility of being dismissed marketing ploy, at least one telecommunications expert said that Telus’ new 4G network will offer benefits for consumers and business users.

Roberta Fox, principal of Fox Group Consulting, a Mt. Albert, Ont.-based telecommunications technology consultancy said HSPA+ provides a definite boost in speed for many users even if “42 mbps is not obtainable.”

Related story – 3G vs. 4G: Real-world speed tests

She said typically users obtain only half or a third of the maximum speed of a network because of numerous variables which include user equipment and number of users on the network.

On her current 3G connection, Fox is able to obtain speeds of 3.3 mbps on downloads and 1.2 mbps for uploads. “But even if I get just 10 mbps from Telus’ HSPA+ that would still be more than double of what I have now,” Fox said.

“For businesses that deal with downloading and sending large files such as sales reports or multi-media and rich media files or patient records and X-rays, you need as much capacity as you can get,” she said.

What some businesses should worry about, Fox said, is what would happen to their current hardware that runs on the 3G or older HSPA network.

“I’ve got some Telus SmartHub four-port Ethernet switches that I purchase on a three year contract. What do I do with them now?” Fox asked.

Nestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and join the IT Business Facebook Page.

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