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This paper investigates the downlink handover (soft/softer/hard) performance of wideband code division multiple access (WCDMA) based 3rd generation universal mobile telecommunication system (UMTS), as it is known that the downlink capacity of UMTS is very sensitive to the extent of overlap area between adjacent cells and power margin between them. Factors influencing the handover performance such as the correlation between the multipath radio channels of the two links, limiting number of Rake fingers in a handset, imperfect channel estimation, etc. that cannot be modeled adequately in system-level simulations are investigated via link-level simulations. It is also shown that the geometry factor has an influence on the handover performance and exhibits a threshold value (which depends on the correlation between the multipath channels associated with the two links in a handover) above which the performance starts degrading. The variation of the handover gain with the closed loop power control (CLPC) step-size and space-time transmit diversity (STTD) is also quantified. These comprehensive results can be used as guidelines for more accurate coverage and capacity planning of UMTS networks.