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HSDPA is faster 3G - in theory (but where are the phones?)

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Smoke and mirrors are often cheaper than masts and cables; and the mobile carriers have found something that may keep their investors happy in high-speed downlink packet access or HSDPA. It makes 3G run faster, just by installing equipment in the server... but not this year, says Informa

The hype machine is in full swing for HSDPA, and only last week Novatel Wireless announced embedded wireless cards for laptops, using HSDPA. "The Expedite EU730 and Expedite EU740 are designed for easy integration into multiple laptop platforms and other mobile devices to provide wireless high-speed broadband access on HSDPA networks at speeds up to 1.8 Mbps," it said.

The reality is that these products won't be shipping any time soon; and phones will come even later.

"HSDPA will only become a reality in the mass market in 2006, due to the late arrival of enabled handsets," says the latest in Informa Telcoms & Media’s "Insight Report" series.

The report, "HSDPA Status Update" warns that "Many operators have already declared their intentions to launch HSDPA, a faster version of 3G (WCDMA) before the end of the year - but these launches are set to be confined to datacard users in 2005, with a lack of enabled handsets ruling out a launch to the mass market until mid-2006, at the earliest."

The sad story is strangely familiar: "After having to repeatedly delay the full commercial launch of their WCDMA networks in 2003 and 2004 due to a shortage of handsets, these same operators are going to endure an exact repeat of the situation when it comes to HSDPA,’ said John Everington, Senior Research Analyst at Informa.

The industry is talking a big fight for HSDPA - it has to. Shareholders in both networks and in handset companies, are counting on success in 3G soon; and HSDPA is a good excuse - for the time being. Informa isn't much impressed:

"Despite early predictions from Samsung, LG and NEC of handsets becoming available from the end of 2005, HSDPA-enabled handsets are only likely to appear commercially in large volumes from mid-2006 onwards, forcing operators to limit their launches to datacard users in the initial stages," Everington said.

Ironically, it looks as if the US will see earlier HSDPA, because the mobile data market there already has pretty good coverage from CDMA 2000 and EV-DO standards, and operator Cingular Wireless "is set to become the first major operator to launch HSDPA on its network in late 2005," claims Everington.

This comes after NTT DoCoMo announced several delays to its deployment plans, with the Japanese operator now forecast to launch HSDPA in the second half of 2006.

In Europe, O2 has already announce that it is committed to HSDPA, and has been pre-empting the decision by buying base stations which require only a software update to start running it. It has reported stellar performance on downloads during its Isle of Man trials which began earlier this year.

Informa Telcoms & Media’s HSDPA Status Update covers:

  • A summary of the advantages and capabilities of HSDPA technology
  • A detailed analysis of the different business cases being adopted by operators looking to roll out HSDPA, including case studies on Cingular, NTT DoCoMo, and O2
  • A vendor-by-vendor analysis of the HSDPA infrastructure market
  • A review of developments and challenges in the HSDPA handset market.
  • © NewsWireless.Net

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