Moto Leans on HSDPA

Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) is talking up its potential to compete in the HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) infrastructure market following a sluggish start to its European 3G campaign, touting five carrier trials as proof of its credentials.

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 average data transfer rates of around the 300-400 kbit/s mark.

Used with existing W-CDMA networks, HSDPA-compliant handsets and base stations are intended to crank up transfer rates. 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).

Motorola this week announced details of completed trials with five unnamed “major European operators” at its U.K. network R&D base in Swindon (see Moto Trials HSDPA).

In light of the location, the U.K.’s five network carriers -- Hutchison 3G UK Ltd., mmO2 plc, Orange SA (London/Paris: OGE), T-Mobile (UK), and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) -- appear likely candidates.

The vendor claims an average data rate of 2.9 Mbit/s over a kilometer from the edge of the base-station coverage area was achieved. “That was the sustained average at the edge of the cell,” says Tom Quirke, director of GSM and UMTS radio active network solutions at Motorola’s network infrastructure division. “We got 3.6 [Mbit/s] sporadically.”

Such results lead Motorola to state that commercial, loaded HSDPA networks are likely to offer average downlink speeds of “between 500 kbit/s and 1.5 Mbit/s”

The vendor expects to launch its HSDPA kit in the second half of this year, and will be hoping to boost its 3G market presence. To date, Motorola has only announced a single commercial W-CDMA network win, at Portugese carrier Optimus Telecomunicacoes (see Moto Hits Euro 3G).

“We are very confident,” says Quirke. “There has been incredible interest in this... Numerous carriers are looking to try and do their earliest launches in 2005 and then build out from there.”

Not that Motorola has given up hope of securing future W-CDMA wins. “We did a survey last year, and there are at least 90 contracts still to go,” adds Quirke. “That’s a big portion of the market. With those 90 wins we are going to go in aggressively.”

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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