updated 04:20 pm EST, Mon February 4, 2008
HSPA Plus Chipset
Texas Instruments today said it had reached a major milestone by introducing a new platform for HSPA+, a new form of "3.5G" high-speed cellular Internet access that builds on today's normal HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) connections. The technology, currently based on a new signal processing chip, would effectively turn a cell tower's base station into a standard IP (Internet protocol) router that uses standard Ethernet to make its connection. This plus other optimizations should permit downloads as quick as 42 megabits per second and uploads at 11 megabits per second; the uplink speed would be roughly double that of already advanced 5.8Mbps HSPA uploads, while downstream access would be as much as six times faster.
The wireless networking technology should also be less expensive to run, Texas Instruments says. Without the need for specialized T1 network lines and with a large amount of similarity to normal HSPA, the technology should serve as a low-cost alternative to true 4G Internet access using Long Term Evolution, which is much faster but requires a larger overhaul of a cell carrier's network.
The core platform for HSPA+ is available from the company as of today, though third-party kits will only be available sometime during the first half of this year. Actual services and cellphones that could use the advanced wide-area broadband will depend greatly on providers and are most likely to appear by 2009.