Finally, broadband on the move

05 May 2008

Best New Tech
2. Web 2.0
3. Mobile Wimax
Last year's winner: Web 2.0

HSPA (high-speed packet access) is the mobile technology that has finally brought broadband to the mobile device.

Two years ago judges voted HSDPA as the technology of the year. Now its fully-featured successor is accelerating 3G takeup and allowing operators to tear down the walled garden and rewrite their playbooks.

It delivers notional speeds of 14.4 Mbps and actual speeds of 1.2-3.6 Mbps. The latest version, now being rolled out, will support up to 21 Mbps.

'HSPA has undoubtedly enabled the user experience initially promised by 3G,' says Ovum in a recent research note.

Operators can now often full web browsing and video with confidence. Quite a number are using it to revamp their mobile data business model, offering lower prices to stimulate demand.

A good deal of that demand is for the PC dongle, not for handsets, analysts note.

Demand has been steep, too. More than 32 million HSPA connections are in operation worldwide today, compared with just over three million at the end of the first quarter of 2007 according to the GSM Association.

In Indonesia, for one, HSPA has overtaken fixed broadband in number of connections, the GSMA says. At the end of 2007, one year after launch, 315,000 connections were in service, compared with just 300,000 fixed-line lines.

The GSMA says around 470 HSPA devices - mobile handsets, notebook PCs, data cards, wireless routers and USB modems - are now in the market, up from 128 devices in January 2007.

Around 70 devices support HSUPA operation, with the majority delivering up to 2.1 Mbps (peak) on the uplink, and 12 HSUPA products supporting or upgradeable for 5.76 Mbps (peak).

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