Mobile operators embrace HSDPA

3G is getting much faster, and most mobile operators are now onboard

Mobile operators are increasingly investing in faster third-generation services, according to research published by the GSM Association late last week.

The Association, which represents the mobile industry, reported that 79 mobile operators are building, or have built, an HSDPA network. Five months ago, only 47 operators had embraced HSDPA, which is also known as Super 3G.

A total of 109 mobile operators have launched WCDMA 3G networks, and the GSM Association predicted that most of them will have upgraded to HSDPA by the end of 2006.

HSDPA is an enhancement to standard, third-generation WCDMA networks. Lab tests have shown that it can support speeds of 3.6Mbps, and speeds of over 7Mbps are thought to be theoretically possible. These fast speeds should make services such as video-conferencing and high-speed Internet access more commercially viable.

The UK's five mobile operators are all upgrading their mobile networks to support HSDPA. O2 led the way by building a trial network on the Isle of Man last year.

In tests carried out by ZDNet UK, peak download speed was measured at 1.29Mbps with an average over 10 minutes of 480Kbps, and 300Kbps streamed video displayed perfectly.