Cingular Launches HSDPA Upgrades

Cingular has announced more of their planned HSDPA upgrades for their UMTS network. Apparently, HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access)is currently live in Seattle and other cities, and will cover 15-20 cities by year-end. There are currently no handsets or PCMCIA cards being offered to customers until next year, so one would imagine Cingular is doing some final testing and adjustments. Cingular seems to be taking the unusually modest step of describing bandwidth in terms of real-world speeds, not the usual laboratory-optimized speeds. Thus, they expect HSDPA to enhance UMTS speeds up to (an EV-DO-like) 400-700Kbps. Three things of note in this story: 1) The US, traditionally behind in cellular, was a world leader with EDGE, and now with HSDPA. 2) The linked story seems to think HSDPA is a replacement for UMTS, but it is actually an enhancement. HSDPA is an evolution of the 3GPP UMTS standard. 3) With the increased spectral efficiency of HSDPA, the carrier lowers their cost of offering data services, so we may see more price competition.

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