Mobile broadband has taken a step closer to reality, with Nortel Networks demonstrating a 1.4Mbps connection using HSDPA technology — dubbed "Super 3G" by some — to a commercial-grade handset that was actually moving while sending and receiving data.
Network equipment vendors have been promising faster data speeds to counter disappointment with 3G. Originally billed as mobile broadband, 3G services so far peak at 384 kbps — see our review of the O2 data card, for instance — and services have been delayed by a lack of handsets.
HSDPA can get speeds up to a maximum of 14.4 Mbps by handling data traffic more efficiently than first-generation 3G networks. Orange has promised HSDPA, and O2 is on track to starting delivering it on the Isle of Man this year.
Nortel's demonstration, which took place at Chateaufort, France, used a handset from LG that is slated for commercial release later this year, and achieved sustained downloads of music and files at 1.4 Mbps while travelling in a moving car.
"This shows the resiliency of HSDPA for high bandwidth downloads, while driving around," said Nortel spokesman Ben Roome. "It's not in the lab with the handset close to the base station." When ZDNet UK tested current 3G technology on the road, its performance was less than stellar.
HSDPA could be rolled out much more quickly than the original 3G networks, said Roome, as it just involves a software upgrade to Nortel kit owned by the operators.