what is hspa+

Evolved High-Speed Packet Access: An Overview


Since the inception of smartphones, mobile networks have significantly evolved to effectively meet the rising demands of the general public. The need for constant speed and performance upgrades influenced the development of HSPA+ cellular technology.

So, what is HSPA? Here are some key fundamentals that allow us to understand the technology:

  • HSPA+ or HSPA Plus [Evolved High-Speed Packet Access] defines the aggregate internet speed of a mobile device.
  • HSPA+ is considered to be an upgrade from the 3G network which bridges the speed difference between 3G and 4G networks.
  • HSPA+ serves as a wireless broadband standard that is capable of generating data speeds of 42.2 Mbps.

Read along as we explore the technical aspects associated with the HSPA+ technology.

What Does HSPA Mean?

HSPA+ is an upgraded version of 3G mobile technology also addressed as W-CDMA or Wideband Code Division Multiple Access. HSPA is a combination of HSUPA [High-Speed Uplink Packet Access] and HSDPA [High-Speed Downlink Packet Access, commonly referred to as High-Speed Packet Access effectively paired with an elevated W-CDMA.

The technology incorporates higher-level modulation systems comprising 16 QAM and 64 QAM [Quadrature Amplitude Modulation] added to the downlink and uplink respectively. The updated modulation system replaces the fundamental QPSK [Quadrature Phase Shift Keying] technique associated with the root W-CDMA grade.

The conventional W-CDMA grade can achieve data speeds ranging between 384 Kbps and 2 Mbps. However, the enhanced HSPA+ technology is capable of generating speeds ranging from 14 Mbps to 42 Mbps depending upon external conditions.

The HSPA+ speed rates fare well against the current 4G LTE fourth-generation mobile network allowing carrier service providers to effectively meet all the present demands of the data-savvy generation. Mobile operators can subsequently maximise the investment made on the 3G network before considering an upgrade to LTE.

Including W-CDMA systems ensures elevated speed, performance, and low-latency levels through the support offered by 5-MHz channel bandwidth. From the overall 5-MHz bandwidth capacity, only 3.84-MHz is utilised as the remainder serves as a guard band among the channels.

Networks that Use HSPA

Multiple mobile operators incorporate and use the HSPA technology. Carrier service providers who specialise in running the 3G network are capable of harnessing HSPA+ technology. Top mobile operators like T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, etc. offer 4G LTE connectivity throughout, with effective areas only catering to the 3G and 3G HSPA+ technologies.

Phone Compatibility with 3G HSPA

Modern-day smartphone users should be aware and informed about radio frequency bands that assist in the transmission of 3G and 4G signals. A 3G HSPA network conventionally depends on frequencies extending between 850, 900, 1700, 1900, and 2100.

Users must verify a smartphone’s capability of supporting the relevant frequency to effectively harness 3G HSPA technology. Generally, detailed information about a device’s ability to support frequencies is printed on the manufacturing box. Ensure to connect with your smartphone brand’s customer support team to learn more.

Related Article: 5G and Beyond: All You Need to Know About 5G UC

HSPA Technical Details

Here are some of the most essential technical details about HSPA+ technology for avid smartphone enthusiasts:

1. 16 QAM Uplink – 64 QAM Downlink

HSPA+ technology possesses the ability to use 16 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation [QAM] on the Enhanced Dedicated Channel for the uplink, in turn, allowing the system to achieve an uplink rate of 11.5 Mbps.

Moreover, with a 64 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation [QAM] downlink potential, the technology can harness up to 21 Mbps downlink rate.

2. Continuous Packet Connectivity

Continuous Packet Connectivity [CPC] is an amalgamation of enhanced systems that assists a large volume of users to stay connected with the network. CPC enhances UE battery potential and elevates the overall quality of the link. 

These upgrades play a crucial role in offering relevant low-data rate services such as VoIP. The evolution of the HSPA+ technology has gained favourable attention from general smartphone users due to its magnified capacity.

3. HS-SCCH-less Operation

The HS-SCCH-less Operation is essential to manage signalling overhead, primarily associated with small packet services like VoIP. The effective incorporation of this technology helps to elevate the overall performance of the HSPA+ network.

Identifying the Key Differences: HSPA+ vs LTE vs 3G vs 4G vs 5G

Smartphone users should acknowledge the following differences between relevant mobile network generations to govern better decision-making:

1. Analysing the Speed

Analysing the aggregate speed of a mobile network is potentially the most essential segment which every smartphone user considers. Enhanced peak and average speed can significantly improve user experience. The following table highlights the speed difference between relevant mobile networks:

Mobile Technology Network Generation Average Speed Top Speed
UMTS 3G Network 384 Kbps 2 Mbps
HSPA 3G Network 3 to 5 Mbps 14.2 Mbps
HSPA+ 3G Network 5 to 8 Mbps 42 Mbps
LTE 4G Network 15 to 20 Mbps 300 Mbps
LTE Advanced 4G Network 50 to 80 Mbps 1 Gbps
LTE Advanced Pro 4G Network 60 to 100 Mbps 3 Gbps
NR 5G Network 150 to 200 Mbps 10 Gbps

2. Analysing the Network Bandwidth Capacity

The overall bandwidth of a mobile network, along with speed capabilities, plays an essential role in determining the efficiency standards. Bandwidth refers to the measuring matric that regulates the aggregate capacity of a mobile network. 

In simple words, bandwidth indicates the network’s potential to accommodate maximum users without compromising on the speed aspect—mobile networks offering bigger bandwidth offer elevated performance.

Considering the 3G and 4G network bandwidths as an example, individuals operating on these networks experienced slower connectivity with a rise in the number of users within a specific traffic area. Issues concerning bandwidth limitations were effectively bridged with the worldwide 5G rollout. Here is a bandwidth synopsis of relevant mobile networks:

  • The 3G network offered superior bandwidth for initiating voice calls during peak hours. Other functions related to data speed were adversely affected by an increase in the number of users.
  • The 4G network offered superior bandwidth for initiating video calls during peak hours. Other functions related to data speed were adversely affected by an increase in the number of users.
  • The 5G network offered superior bandwidth that allowed users to stream HD movies without any interruptions during peak hours. Offering optimum data speed and performance throughout.

With the immediate rise in the popularity of IoT devices [Internet of Things], an upgrade to the 5G SA network is being projected.

3. The Security Aspect

The rise in popularity of cellular data and easy access to smartphones also influenced various safety concerns due to fraudulent activities initiated by scammers and hackers. According to recent research, it is estimated that 76% of businesses worldwide have been affected by online phishing attacks.

Comparing the safety standards, the 5G network offers significant improvement. The latest 5G network successfully encrypts user location and identity information which the older 3G and 4G generations fail to fulfil. 

Moreover, every phone call and text message is effectively encrypted on the 4G and 5G networks. The 3G safety standards are not ideal as users are exposed to various phishing attacks. The 4G network incorporates 128-bit encryption which amplifies to 256-bit encryption on the 5G network.

Interesting Read: 5G Nationwide vs. Ultra Wideband: Which One is Faster?

Additionally, the 5G network ensures it works with unique connections for every subscriber, in turn, limiting spoof authentication complications. This security feature enables carrier service providers to detect data breaches within the core domain more efficiently.


These were some of the foremost technical aspects related to the HSPA+ technology. Be sure to scan relevant online sources to gain more detailed information on this topic. Collaborate with premium carrier operators such as Talk Home Mobile to experience unparalleled data speed, limitless coverage, and secured connectivity.


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