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Vodafone next-gen 3G trial hits 16Mb/s

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Vodafone has successfully trialled a mobile broadband connection technology that could, theoretically, double existing download-to-phone speeds.

Called HSPA+, the technology was tried out on Vodafone’s Spanish network and achieved, the carrier claimed, “actual peak download rates of up to 16Mb/s”.

But Vodafone admitted that punters won’t see such speeds if and when the technology reaches mobile devices. It said that 4Mb/s will likely to the average speed most users get. But video downloads of more than 13Mb/s could be achieved in “good conditions”, it added.

HSPA+ is the next step in 3G after HSDPA and HSUPA, and Vodafone, working alongside Ericsson and Qualcomm, achieved the download speed by using an advanced modulation technique called 64 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) and Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) basestations and data devices.

Essentially, 64 QAM communicates data by modulating the amplitude of two carrier waves, each out of sync with each other by 90°. By using multiple antennae, MIMO increases data throughput and link range without sucking up more bandwidth or transmission power.

The downside of HSPA+ is that new, compatible devices are required, but Vodafone’s already trialling, testing and validating such kit, it said.

It’s worth noting that Vodafone isn’t the first carrier to trial HSPA+. Aussie outfit Telstra launched its HSPA+ Next G network back in 2006, which can theoretically provide speeds of up to 21Mb/s. It even plans to speed this up to 42Mb/s later this year.

A rollout date for Vodafone HSPA+ services wasn’t announced. ®

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