ST-Ericsson’s newest modem, the M5730, may not sound sexy, nor will manufacturers who use it bother even mentioning it’s inside their hardware, but we’re mobile geeks, so we care when we hear things like “up to fifty per cent lower power consumption than competing HSPA+ 21Mbps modems available on the market”. Let’s back track a little, what’s HSPA+? If you want to get picky about naming, UMTS was proper 3G, and WCDMA, which first started out at 3.6 Mbps, then doubled to 7.2 Mbps, is called 3.5G in industry circles. Now with HSPA+ … people are in a bind. There are operators such as T-Mobile who are calling it 4G, and while they’re technically telling a lie, they are competing head to head on speeds offered by Clearwire, who is also claiming that their WiMAX network gives “4G download speeds”. There’s also Telstra on the other side of the world who has a 42 Mbps HSPA+ network up and running and they’re calling it “Super 3G”.
Marketing aside, I’ve already written a lengthy article on that, the problems with next generation networks, specifically LTE, is that there’s no agreed upon standard for voice. There’s something called the “One Voice Initiative” that a bunch of operators and network infrastructure providers agreed upon as the best way to implement voice and SMS, but no one has yet to deploy it, and there are better, cheaper and less clunk ways to bolt the two most basic services that operators have been providing for years and years.
Why’s that important for HSPA+? Because it’s just an upgrade to today’s 3G networks and it brings about a huge increase in speed. HTC was the first smartphone maker to ship an HSPA+ capable device, the Desire Z otherwise known as the T-Mobile G2. You’ll be hearing about plenty more devices supporting this new in between standard, because really, LTE is supposed to give 100 Mbps down and HSPA+ maxes out at 42 Mbps. It can do double that with some crazy antenna configurations, but that isn’t going to happen for cost and practical reasons.