Nokia tests smartphone-boosting 3G tech

October 22, 2014 // 8:39 a.m.

Tags: #3g #mobile-network #smartphone

Nokia Networks, the still-surviving infrastructure arm of the once-mighty Finnish mobile giant, has announced the first network trial of new 3G mobile features which it claims will boost the performance and battery life of future smartphones.

While Nokia sold its mobile devices division to Microsoft, it retained its infrastructure and services division Nokia Networks. That company, still based in Espoo, Finland, has announced a new software feature for its customers - Nokia High Speed Cell FACH (Forward Access Channel) - which has shown considerable promise in live-network testing: 20 per cent faster web browsing, 40 per cent power saving, and an improvement of up to 65 per cent in response times.

Nokia's High Speed Cell FACH encompasses three standards from the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP): Enhanced Cell FACH Downlink, Uplink, and Enhanced DRX Cell FACH. Taken together, these features - never previously used on 3G connections - add up to considerable gains in performance. While the 20 per cent boost in browsing speed will be welcomed, it's the 40 per cent power saving that will have Nokia's customers interested - boosting the battery life of devices using 3G broadband connectivity with, as a software feature, little overall cost to roll out.

'Smartphones already outsell feature phones and by 2018, smartphone penetration in some developed markets is expected to exceed 90 per cent. With virtually all these smartphones being 3G-enabled, it’s important to be able to improve network efficiency under high signalling load,' claimed Thorsten Robrecht, vice president of mobile broadband at Nokia Networks. 'Nokia Networks already offers a unique set of software features to reduce smartphone signalling. High Speed Cell FACH is now the next step.'

When enabled on the cell and supported by the baseband processor of a connected device, Nokia's High Speed Cell FACH drops network signalling by up to 80 per cent. While it's a simple software update for networks, it does require hardware support on the devices themselves - something Qualcomm's latest baseband processor, provided with the newest Snapdragon system-on-chip, includes.

Nokia carried out its test on the commercial 3G network of what it describes as 'a major European operator', but has not yet indicated whether it has signed up any networks for the commercial implementation of the feature nor when support will be enabled in consumer devices. More details are available in the company's white paper (PDF warning.)
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