HSDPA to the Rescue?
The global rollout of 3G networks may be experiencing severe delays and concern over long-term potential for revenue success, but such troubles haven’t affected analysts' desire to tout the virtues of so-called “3.5G” technology [ed. note: 3.5G? Oh purlease].
In separate reports released today, both the ARC Group and Analysys stake a claim for High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) technology, a wireless standard designed to act as an upgrade to third-generation networks.
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 offer maximum [ed. translation: once in a blue moon, then] data transfer rates of 2 Mbit/s.
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. HSPDA is a standardized feature in the 3GPP’s Release 5 specification, introduced in August 2002 (see Release 5 to the 3G Rescue).
Despite limited interest in the technology -- only Japan’s NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) has so far publicly admitted to testing HPSDA services (see DoCoMo Cranks Up 3G) -- the fortune tellers over at Arc Group forecast that such 3.5G technologies will reach 9.1 million subscribers by 2008.
“HSDPA is expected to become the most popular of 3.5G technologies due to its support from major vendors like Nokia” (see Nokia Shows Enhanced 3G), the analyst group claims in its latest report -- Life After 3G: New Network Technologies Drive Mobile Growth.
Analysys also adopts a similar viewpoint. Dr. Mark Heath, co-author of The Role and Impact of Emerging Wireless Technologies, believes that HSDPA will provide W-CDMA operators with the capability to rival fixed broadband services. “HSDPA allows W-CDMA to deliver a true wireless broadband experience at a cost-per-megabyte one ninth that of GPRS. This will allow operators to cut prices dramatically.”
Exactly what type of services actually require these high data rates remains unclear, of course.
— Justin Sgrinpham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung