2006: Mobiles will beat PCs for broadband speed

'They love WiMax, they love it not... '

'They love WiMax, they love it not... '

Next year will be the year broadband connections on mobiles will outstrip most people's home fat pipes, Nokia believes.

According to Simon Beresford-Wylie, Nokia's executive VP of networks, 2006 will see the arrival proper of HSDPA (high speed downlink packet access) - a software tweak that can significantly boost the speeds of 3G - enabling downlink speeds of 14Mbps on mobiles.

Such speeds would mean a serious increase - up from the 1Mbps to 2Mbps HSDPA can manage now, or the 384Kbps of the W-CDMA version of 3G.

HSUPA (high speed uplink packet access) is also due for a massive rise: up from 1.5Mbps to 7Mbps at the end of next year, according to Beresford-Wylie. Aside from the my-fat-pipe's-bigger-than-yours showboating, what will the higher numbers mean for the business traveller?

Beresford-Wylie said: "If you're downloading emails with large attachments, you need these speeds."

The Finnish giant estimates that by 2009 there will be 30 million broadband wireless users.

Despite the hype, and Nokia's assurances that HSDPA and WiMax are complementary, HSDPA is still outstripping WiMax in terms of tangible, public rollouts. Nokia has six public HSDPA contracts and 15 non-public and is predicting the technology will crop up in networks next year.

While HSDPA appears to have found a place in operators' hearts - O2 is already dabbling with it in the UK - WiMax is a different matter.

Despite the recent announcement of its commitment to the technology, the equipment maker was cagey as to who will take advantage of the Nokia WiMax tie-up.

"Who might use WiMax technology? Some cellular operators might use it or they might not... it depends on their own individual business case," Beresford-Wylie said.

"Some new operators might come and deploy WiMax... Some operators might deploy it as complementary technology," he added.