It’s very much looking like 2006 will be the year of HSDPA. If you don’t know what that is, it’s essentially a new technology that allows mobile operators to boost data speeds up – way in excess of current 3G speeds.
What does that mean in real terms? Well, faster data opens up new technology and applications. The obvious ones are super-fast downloads and audio and video streaming. You could even use your mobile as a powerful modem for your laptop or have better access to business tools and resources on your portable device of choice.
3 has announced that it has completed a successful trial of HSDPA on its network, with speeds over three times faster than current 3G and over 40 times faster than GPRS. The trial will be extended in May, with an eye on a rollout of HSDPA in the second half of this year.
However, they may not be the first to market. As previously reported, Vodafone has already undertaken a small scale trial, with a wider trial of business users set for April. And O2 has carried out trials in the Isle Of Man, with a provisional date of the third quarter of 2006 for a commercial roll out. Both Orange and T-Mobile have also committed to a service this year – Orange is currently trialling a French service with around 150 users in Lyon.
So who will be first remains very much open to debate. We’ll keep you posted on all developments.