The third-generation (3G) mobile phone
network that carrier Hutchison shares with Telstra will be
upgraded to the HSDPA mobile broadband standard in the first half
of next year.
Hutchison's chief executive Kevin Russell outlined the plans in a telephone briefing following the
company's annual general meeting this morning.
HSDPA or High-Speed Downlink Packet Access is a protocol
allowing advanced mobile phone networks to theoretically provide mobile broadband up to 14.4Mbps, although speeds are initially expected to be much lower.
Russell said the upgrade would "assist with efficient capacity
expansion but also provide an enhanced opportunity for new and
improved non-voice services".
Such services are likely to include higher speed mobile
broadband than the current services Hutchison offers through its
"3" branded laptop cards.
Russell declined to reveal the cost of the upgrade, claiming
his company was "now in the process of finalising negotiations
around the functionality and costs".
"We've actually estimated some costs internally, but until
we've finalised those negotiations it's not going to be
appropriate to give any numbers out," he said.
The chief executive added there were not expected to be any difficulties with Telstra in the process.
Hutchison has since mid-2004 shared the network with Telstra,
which now jointly owns and operates the infrastructure under a
joint venture agreement.
Decisions on network development are made and funded jointly
under the agreement.
Network equipment vendor Ericsson is likely to carry out the
work as the company originally built the network and has an
extensive managed services agreement with Hutchison.
Ericsson is also currently replacing Telstra's CDMA mobile
phone network with a 3G equivalent. That network, which will primarily cover
different areas than Hutchison's will also incorporate HSDPA
Hutchison internationally appears to be keen on the fledgling
HSDPA technology. The company announced in early April it had
commissioned vendor NEC to start a HSDPA rollout in Hong Kong,
and similar moves are afoot in other countries such as the United
In Australia, Vodafone is also known to have trialled the protocol as it plans to take advantage of the growing 3G network it shares with Optus.