3 demos live HSDPA service

Mobile Choice hotfooted it over to 3's flagship store on Oxford Street, London this morning to view a live demo of its HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) service. Its 3.5G network is expected to launch commercially complete with new handsets in Q4 this year, in time for the Christmas rush, with initial coverage centring on the London and Manchester area. Because 3.5G technology is just a software upgrade of its existing 3G infrastructure (3's 3G coverage currently stands a 89% of the UK), expect a quick rollout throughout the rest of the country.

The first generation of HSDPA is expected to deliver download speeds of 3.6Mbps, however initial speeds of around 1.5Mbps will be only possible but this is still five times faster than 3G. 3 also mooted future downlink speeds of 14.4Mbps in a couple of years time. Upload speeds will start at around 384Kbps but this is expected to increase to between 1.5 - 5.5Mbps by the end of 2007.

3 assured Mobile Choice there were no smoke and mirrors involved when we witnessed a 4.6MB file download, via a 3.5G laptop data card, which took just 25 seconds to download at a speed of around 1.5Mbps. The same file took one minute 52 seconds over a 3G connection. Video streaming speeds, buffering and picture quality was also vastly improved as we browsed the You Tube website and watched video clips. The demo did take place in very close proximity of an antenna and base station, so download times were at their optimum. However, these increased speeds and capacity mean higher quality mobile TV viewing, the possibility of full album downloads and access to graphic rich websites when browsing the Internet.

Mobile Choice also got its hands on two prototype 3.5G handsets: a slimline LG clamshell that looked like a member of the next generation of Chocolate phones (complete with front red-lit touch sensitive keys) and a Motorola RAZR (pictured). Both handsets and other phones in the range are expected to allow a maximum of around 1.8Mbps downloads.

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Mobile Choice

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