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Optical/IP

HSDPA Battles On

So-called 3.5G HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) technology could live up to the recent hype surrounding its emergence, according to the results of Unstrung’s March poll: HSDPA: A Technology Too Far?.

HSDPA is a packet-based data service evolved from -- and backwards compatible with -- earlier Wideband-Code Division Multiple Access (W-CDMA) air interface standards, which supposedly offer maximum data transfer rates of 2 Mbit/s. [Ed. note: Look ma! A flying pig!]

Used with existing W-CDMA networks, HSDPA-compliant handsets and base stations could increase transfer rates to a maximum of 10 Mbit/s, at least in theory. HSDPA is a standardized feature in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP)’s Release 5 specification, introduced in August 2002 (see Release 5 to the 3G Rescue).

More than half (51 percent) of respondents believe that HSDPA could be a money spinner for carriers and vendors so long as early 3G deployments prove to be a success, while a further 34 percent are certain that market demand for high-speed services will fuel the technology’s growth.

Thirty-nine percent of readers believe the technology is most likely to be deployed within the next three to five years.

Such upbeat forecasts strengthen recent analyst support for the technology (see ARC Talks Up 3.5G and HSDPA to the Rescue?).

Only 15 percent of readers believe HSDPA “is a step too far and purely for the lab geeks.” This lowly figure may surprise those industry insiders dismayed by the severe delays to W-CDMA network rollouts and high-profile failures of early 3G launches (see Euro Carriers: 3G's Not Ready and Hutch's Subscriber U-Turn).

To date, carriers have shown little public interest in HSDPA, with only NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) admitting that it is testing the technology (see DoCoMo Cranks Up 3G). The Japanese giant’s curiosity is backed up by the 50 percent of readers who expect Japan to lead the way in HSDPA rollout, followed by Europe (28 percent).

Vendors, meanwhile, have been more active in this space, with Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) all touting the virtues of the standard (see Au Revoir, 3G Schmoozefest).

This trend tallies with a near-majority reader belief (46 percent) that industry marketing of HSDPA will most likely be driven by "network vendors finding yet another bandwagon to jump on in an effort to boost sales figures."

Our new April poll tackles the hype surrounding WiMax -- a technology with real user demand and industry support or the latest overhyped turkey? Have your say here: WiMax: Metro-Sexy?.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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