Orange has begun testing a wireless technology that could allow 3G operators to operate much faster data services.
The mobile firm announced this week that it is trialling IPWireless' UMTS TDD service in France. IPWireless has claimed that this service will provide the same level of performance as WiMax. It could also rival HSDPA, which has been labelled Super 3G.
The trial — one of the first in Europe — will involve companies based in the Lille business area. Orange hopes to test the real-time performance of TDD, including the coverage area and the number of simultaneous users that can be supported.
TDD runs within the 3G, or UMTS, specification.
In Britain, as in many other countries, the operators who won 3G licences were allocated two portions of 'paired bandwidth' called FDD, to be used for voice calls and data services (such as Vodafone's 3G Mobile Connect offering). Most of them also received an extra piece of spectrum, the TDD, which could be used to provide extra network capacity once operators had filled up their FDD allocation.
IPWireless says that TDD can be more than a simple buffer. The company's service uses it as the backbone of a separate high-speed data service that it claims will be faster than is currently possible using FDD.
FDD-based 3G services today typically offer a maximum download speed of 384kbps. The UMTS TDD alliance claims that UMTS TDD could support download speeds of up to 12Mbps. HSDPA, which runs in the FDD band, is said to offer a theoretical maximum of 14Mbps.