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Huawei pushes Scalable UMTS for refarming

Technology runs 3G in half bandwidth to supports operators refarming 900MHz spectrum, but with only 5MHz to play with


Published: 26 February, 2013

READ MORE: Huawei Technologies | UMTS

Mobile World Congress will be full of vendors demonstrating the next steps in LTE performance, but there will also be leaps forward in 3G, as many carriers - especially those in Europe - are immediately more concerned with squeezing more out of their HSPA systems than with depoying LTE everywhere. Huawei and Qualcomm are tapping into that demand and demonstrating Scalable UMTS, which supports 3G within a half bandwidth channel.

Huawei says it is the first to show off this capability, which will be important for carriers refarming 900MHz GSM spectrum for 3G. Although some cellcos plan to use these frequencies for LTE, so far 900MHz has mainly been seen as an HSPA migration route because of its relatively low bandwidth. Indeed, Huawei says more than half the operators looking to refarm this GSM band have less than 5MHz of contiguous spectrum.

Scalable UMTS is designed to make that spectrum more usable by working in half bandwidth. Huawei and Qualcomm hope to make it part of 3GPP standards and if that happens, it is likely to be featured more heavily by vendors as cellcos in major emerging markets look to migrate to 3G. The technology can be jointly deployed with Huawei's UMTS Flexible Carrier Bandwidth solution to save spectrum in deploying small cells and improve network capacity.

The two vendors completed end-to-end testing of a Scalable UMTS prototype in November 2012 at Huawei's Shanghai laboratory and claim that the test showed that the technology, in a half-bandwidth channel, provides the same spectral efficiency as normal UMTS.

Ying Weimin, Huawei's president for GSM/UMTS/LTE networks, said: "The industry chain supporting the delivery of Scalable UMTS is becoming more and more mature, making it possible for such innovations to catch up with our customers' demands. We expect a large scale commercialization of Scalable UMTS to be achieved in the near future."

Samir Soliman, VP of technology at Qualcomm Research, added: "Scalable UMTS was designed to help operators maximize the data capacity and value of their existing spectrum. With varied use cases of Scalable UMTS, this band-agnostic technology is beneficial to both emerging and developed regions. In emerging regions of the world, Scalable UMTS can accelerate GSM refarming, whereas in developed regions, the technology enables efficient utilization of spectrum resources."

Scalable UMTS is currently a 3GPP Release 12 study item and will be commercially available from Huawei.

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