mmO2 'super' 3G due next summer

The Isle of Man's first 3G network was never used commercially, but the island's e-business minister has high hopes for its successor
Written by Matt Loney, Contributor
mmO2 plans to launch what it believes will be Europe's first truly high-speed 3G mobile data network next summer on the Isle of Man.

Manx Telecom, mmO2's subsidiary telco on the island, ran the first tests of regular 3G services outside Japan in 2001, but never turned that into a full commercial service, deciding instead to switch it off.

"Manx Telecom decided not to invest in the technology until it had settled down," said Tim Craine, e-business minister for the Isle of Man. "This will be a full commercial network. It will remove the latency and bandwidth issues you get with standard 3G networks."

ZDNet UK's 3G data card road test recently highlighted the limitations of current 3G data networks.

The new network on the Isle of Man will be based on High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) and Internet Protocol Multimedia Services to achieve download speeds of 3.6Mbps. The service will only initially be available to customers with laptops using special plug-in data cards.

MmO2 promises that its basic 3G offering, scheduled to go live in February in the UK, Ireland and Germany, will be upgraded to the higher speed sometime next year.

Chris Hall, MD of Manx Telecom, said in a statement: "This network will serve as a showcase of the tremendous benefits fixed-mobile multimedia networks have to offer."

mmO2's network, built by Lucent, will ultimately support data speeds of up to 14.4Mbps and will therefore offer speeds equivalent to fixed-line access, according to the mobile company. Customers should eventually be able to download large email attachments, DVD-quality film and audio as well as interactive multiplayer games and push-to-watch services.

The initial limitation of the service is largely determined by the capacity of current handsets. Product announcements for the high-speed service are expected before the end of 2005.

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