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Difference Between WCDMA and HSDPA

hsdpa_bookWCDMA vs. HSDPA

WCDMA stands for Wideband Code Division Multiple Access, a mobile technology that improves upon the capabilities of current GSM networks that are deployed around the world. People commonly refer to this technology as 3G, or 3rd generation, and it provides newer services like video calling to the traditional call, and text messaging features that are already standard. HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) is what is commonly known as 3.5G, as it offers no substantial upgrade to the feature set of WCDMA, but improves the speed of data transmission to enhance those services.

Prior to the introduction of HSDPA, WCDMA networks were only capable of reaching speeds of 384kbps. Although this might be sufficient for most services, people always want faster speeds, especially when browsing the internet or downloading files. HSDPA allowed speeds above 384kbps, the most notable of which is 3.6Mbps and 7.2Mbps, which a lot of telecommunications companies often advertise. In truth, HSDPA is capable of reaching much higher speeds depending on the type of modulation that is being used. HSDPA speeds can even reach a theoretical maximum of 84Mbps.

Aside from increasing the existing data speed provided by WCDMA, HSDPA also improved the latency, or the time it takes between the moment the request is placed and the moment the requested data is received. The lower latencies provided by HSDPA makes the 3G services more real-time, and conversations are more natural. Lower latencies are also good for people who use their connection to play online games, where high latencies result in lag.

Features in HSDPA that make these things possible are Fast Packet Scheduling and AMC (Adaptive Modulation and Coding). Fast Packet Scheduling allows the base station to adjust the amount of data that is being transmitted to a certain device based on the current conditions. AMC also allows the base station to select a better modulation and coding scheme if the signal quality allows it. Initially, users are assigned with QPSK, but can be changed to a lot of other coding schemes that provide better data rates if the signal between the device and the base station is strong enough.


1. WCDMA is commonly referred to as 3G, while HSDPA is commonly referred to as 3.5G.

2. HSDPA provides much higher data rates compared to WCDMA.

3. HSDPA has lower latency times compared to WCDMA.

4. HSDPA has Fast Packet Scheduling and AMC, features that are absent in WCDMA.

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  1. Very good article.
    This is what I’m looking for.

  2. Nice summary, direct and to the point. Thanks.

  3. Hello and thank you for this very good article.

    What about my HSPA telephone. Would it be WCDMA compatible?


  4. Very good article.
    This is what I’m looking for.

  5. god like yar!!!

  6. thanks you really helped me..

  7. thanks… i really appreciate the work that u did. it really reduced my confusion while choosing my phone.

  8. Very good explanation in simple words.

    Keep it up

  9. Really appreciate u!

  10. great..sir G. this like true guide..

  11. excellent article… thanks a lot… 🙂

  12. best answer to my question 🙂

  13. excellent article to understand the difference…
    thanx a lot !!!!!!!

  14. Good one.. So both WCDMA and HSPA use only packet switching or do they have circuit switching too?

  15. Good article & also a good summary. Thanx a bundle.

  16. I use my mobile broadband internet. The WCDMA connection happens to be much faster than the HSDPA connection. What do you think is the reason for this occurence?

  17. Wonderful explanation, easy to grasp the content and details.

  18. thanks for the difference between both.

  19. thanks for summary of the difference between hspa and wcdma

  20. THANKs

  21. now I fully understand…thanks!

  22. very good explanation ,i hv ever read
    thanx for supporting me in a best method of simple explanation with simple words,

  23. thanks a lot, best response ever

  24. good , straight to the point and understandable also.

  25. very gud……i expect that only

  26. Very in depth article. Good work on that.

  27. This is a good contribution.

  28. Good!! Just what I was looking for. You guys know how to write.

  29. Excelllent article

  30. Compare Nokia X dual sim and Nokia XL dual sim, which one is better plz any body tel me and also compare with Q noir i9 please

  31. Thank you for explaining the difference in a simple yet detailed manner.

  32. Great explanation…

  33. Thanks a lot for reducing my confusion. Really best article on internet ever seen. Very helpful

  34. HSDPA is not fast ooo….my web and uc browser is too slow in HSDPA network

  35. Please can I get any citation/reference on this write up. Urgent reply needed thanks

  36. Please can i get a citation for this ” truth, HSDPA is capable of reaching much higher speeds depending on the type of modulation that is being used. HSDPA speeds can even reach a theoretical maximum of 84Mbps”

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