Vodafone has confirmed that it achieved download speeds of more than 20mbps using its evolutionary 3G HSPA+MIMO Mobile Broadband technology in southern Spain, not far from the 21mbps target that the company set itself originally.
HSPA+ has a theoretical speed limit of up to 42mbps and 22mbps for upload and download respectively and Vodafone's tests were done in a controlled environment in an almost near perfect condition.
The fact that Vodafone will not need to massively update its 3G network to accommodate the technology is a huge bonus since it means that upgrades can be done faster and cheaper.
Customers' speeds though are expected to be at most half of what Vodafone has demonstrated and less stable than their fixed line counterparts. The company has also not disclosed the upload speed reached during the test.
Vodafone currently offers speed of up to 7.2mbps and any new updates will likely be rolled out in business zones, city centres and airports.
The company's global networks director, Andy MacLeod, confirmed that hardware from Ericsson, Huawei and Qualcomm were used during the test.
Earlier this year, Vodafone achieved speeds of 16mbps using HSPA+64QAM and will be working with network equipment manufacturers to bring out devices that support both 64QAM and MIMO.
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There are also news that Vodafone would be looking to double the bandwidth it currently offers with a dual carrier HSPA which would essentially allow the use of two concurrent radio channels. Bonding is the way forward, as long as the power consumption doesn't outweigh the advantages of the speed gains.