T-Mobile USA and Nokia Siemens Networks say 3GPP is looking at key features of next-generation HSPA services they're calling "Long Term HSPA Evolution."

At a meeting last week, 3GPP initiated technical work and study items on three key features of the technology: HSDPA multi-carrier evolution, which combines up to eight carriers and provides peak data rates of up to 672 Mbps, along with improving spectrum utilization; HSDPA multi-point transmission, which increases the cell edge data rate; and dual antenna beamforming and multiple input multiple output (MIMO) in uplink, which will double the uplink peak data rate.

Detailed specification work on the features will take place in radio access network (RAN) working groups. The 3GPP is expected to consider additional features of the HSPA technology in subsequent meetings.

The standards body's consideration of the new technology is a victory for T-Mobile and Nokia Siemens, which are driving the technology's standardization to make it available for commercial deployment by 2013. The companies say the technology can deliver theoretical peak data rates of more than 650 Mbps.

"We strongly believe in continued HSPA evolution in parallel to the further development of LTE and LTE Advanced," said T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray. "Long Term HSPA Evolution will allow us to enhance our 4G mobile broadband network beyond its current and planned near-term capabilities and provide room for considerable growth and speed enhancements."

T-Mobile has been a proponent of advancing HSPA technology. The carrier has upgraded much of its HSPA network to HSPA+ and is calling the services "4G," much to the ire of Verizon Wireless, Sprint and Clearwire, which have spent billions of dollars building out their respective LTE and WiMAX networks.

Nokia Siemens WCDMA chief Keith Sutton said in a statement that the company is "equally committed" to advancing HSPA and LTE technologies.

"The demand for higher data rates and mobile broadband growth continues to push the need for advances in both HSPA and LTE technologies," Sutton said.

The company says its Single RAN platform is already prepared for Long Term HSPA Evolution, which is reportedly backwards compatible with existing WCDMA and HSPA mobiles on the same carriers.