Businesses are only now about to get to grips with commercial 3G services, but the phone manufacturers and operators are already working on even faster 3.5G services that will be trialled at the end of this year.
Vodafone is about to launch its 3G wireless data card for laptops this summer, but Analyst ARC Group says this type of service will be usurped by a 3.5G technology called HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access). HSDPA can deliver data speeds of between 8 and 20mbps (megabits per second) – much faster than the 384kbps (kilobits per second) offered by current 3G services.
Even allowing for the fact that 3G was initially touted as a 2mbps service five years before its eventual commercial launch, there is enough headroom in the published HSDPA speeds to make it significantly faster than 3G.
ARC Group says a key driver for the development of both 3G and 3.5G will be the integration of wireless Lans and mobile phone networks to offer high data speeds no matter where the user is – in a building or in a field.
ARC Group telecoms consultant Chris White comments: “Too much attention has been paid to how wireless Lans will compete with 3G, rather than looking at the benefits of combining both network technologies.”
And signalling yet another standard, White said: “Further integration of wireless Lans into the mobile network mix is one vital stepping stone to 4G.”
Japan, incidentally, is already seeing development of 4G services, which will likely deliver data at speeds over 20mbps.
This article was part of Computer Weekly's enterprise mobile business channel, sponsored by Nokia