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3G/HSPA Performance in Live Networks from the End User Perspective

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4 Author(s)
Prokkola, J. ; VTT Tech. Res. Centre of Finland, Converging Networks Lab., Oulu, Finland ; Perala, P.H.J. ; Hanski, M. ; Piri, E.

Operators around the world are improving their 3G/UMTS networks by introducing HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) that includes both, enhanced uplink and downlink. The HSPA is expected to finally provide the mobile broadband access that is able to compete with the fixed connections in performance regarding popular applications such as Web browsing, VoIP, and video. However, it has remained unclear how well the live networks fulfill the promises of performance. We contribute in filling this void by providing measurements in live 3G/HSPA networks. We compare TCP and UDP good-put performance in basic WCDMA, HSDPA-only, and HSPA. Moreover, one-way delay and jitter measurement results are presented in a stationary as well as in a mobile scenario. The results show that the enhanced network outperforms clearly its predecessor by offering considerably higher data rates, lower delay, and lower jitter. Also, because of the HARQ (Hybrid Automatic Repeat request), there are notably less delay spikes observed with HSPA than with WCDMA. However, the drive tests show that handovers result in high jitter and interruptions to the communications, which causes, e.g., decreased VoIP call quality. The uplink enhancement (HSUPA) improves the TCP performance beyond the HSDPA-only access, but it is still behind that of the fixed connections. In addition, the properties of the channel allocation mechanism still considerably deteriorate the data rates seen by the user. Nevertheless, the HSPA is an enabler for true mobile broadband internet access.

Published in:

Communications, 2009. ICC '09. IEEE International Conference on

Date of Conference:

14-18 June 2009