Dual-Carrier HSDPA, also known as Dual-Cell HSDPA, is part of 3GPP Release 8 specification. It is the natural evolution of HSPA by means of carrier aggregation in the downlink. UMTS licenses are often issued as 5, 10, or 20 MHz paired spectrum allocations. The basic idea of the multicarrier feature is to achieve better resource utilization and spectrum efficiency by means of joint resource allocation and load balancing across the downlink carriers.
New HSDPA User Equipment categories 21-24 have been introduced that support DC-HSDPA. DC-HSDPA can support up to 42.2 Mbit/s, but unlike HSPA, it does not need to rely on MIMO transmission.
The support of MIMO in combination with DC-HSDPA will allow operators deploying Release 7 MIMO to benefit from the DC-HSDPA functionality as defined in Release 8. While in Release 8 DC-HSDPA can only operate on adjacent carriers, Release 9 also allows that the paired cells can operate on two different frequency bands. Later releases allow the use of up to four carriers simultaneously.
From Release 9 onwards it will be possible to use DC-HSDPA in combination with MIMO being used on both carriers. The support of MIMO in combination with DC-HSDPA will allow operators even more capacity improvements within their network. This will allow theoretical speed of up to 84.4 Mbit/s.