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O2 to offer UK 'super 3G' data network by Q3 06

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O2 will roll out HSDPA across its national 3G networks by Q3 2006, the network operator has revealed.

The carrier has been testing HSDPA (High Speed Data Packet Access) technology on the Isle of Man, which also played host to its original 3G trials. Next year's roll-out will see the service launched in the UK, Germany and Ireland.

HSDPA upgrades 3G to improve the network's data performance, taking downloads speeds up to 1.4Mbps in its current form, though O2 is looking to improved data rates that should push 3.6Mbps by the time the technology goes live outside the Isle of Man. Upload speeds should hit 384Kbps from today's 128Kbps.

Come early 2008, and the download speed is set to rise to 7.3Mbps before hitting 10.2Mbps in late 2009.

The trial network became a commercial service run by O2 subsidiary Manx Telecom last week.

"This is the first super 3G network," said Dave Williams, O2's CTO. "It's the 3G we always wanted."

Initially the service will be delivered direct to PCs courtesy of HSDPA-equipped Sierra Wireless AirCard 850 PCMCIA cards. Williams claimed two unnamed notebook makers plan to integrate HSDPA into their machines next year. Handsets capable of accessing the faster download speeds are in the pipeline too. ®

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