As you may or many not know HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Data Packet Access) is the exciting new technology which will enable mobile phone networks to ramp up data speeds to levels well beyond what we currently have with 3G. Quite who is going to be first to deliver HSDPA remains to be seen though. O2 has been making a big noise about the technology and has been trialling it on the Isle of Man. Its HSDPA system has just gone live there offering users speeds of 1.4Mbps. It also hopes to have HSDPA available across the UK by the end of next summer.
Orange is also keen on HSDPA and stressed how important it is at the 3GSM show in Cannes earlier in the year. The dark horses though could be T-Mobile which cunningly committed to its HSDPA roll out in a press release about its Web'n Walk tariff last month. It is promising to deliver a service in 2006 which will offer data speeds of 1.8Mbps - over four times faster than its existing 3G network. Today T-Mobile confirmed that, in collaboration with its partner Nokia it had completed HSDPA calls in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany.
"The HSDPA calls demonstrate T-Mobile's commitment to raising the bar for the quality of broadband mobile data services," says Hamid Akhavan, Chief Technology Officer, T-Mobile. "The calls are a good example of the successful cooperation that is taking place between T-Mobile and Nokia in the field of high speed mobile access and broadband applications."
Quite what the networks, and indeed us consumers will do with all that extra bandwidth remains to be seen. HSDPA PCMCIA cards for laptops are a cert though and maybe for the first time, we'll have really smooth video streaming. Don't expect HSDPA speeds to stop at around 4Mbps either. According to O2 download speed is set to rise to 7.3Mbps in 2008 before hitting 10.2Mbps in late 2009.