Vodafone says it plans to introduce data access technology that is faster than 3G to its networks early next year.
Vodafone plans to roll out High-Speed Download Packet Access (HSDPA) technology as a trial at the beginning of the year, and introduce a full commercial version by the middle of 2006.
HSDPA can already deliver peak download data rates of 1.6Mbps and theoretically can reach 7Mbps with future network upgrades.
It isn’t clear what commercial access data rates Vodafone will deliver to customers using HSDPA, as operators don’t usually deliver the maximum speeds possible with new access technologies. However, Vodafone will beat the maximum 384kbps it currently offers on its existing 3G networks.
HSDPA will initially be offered to business users via laptop mobile data cards, which were also the first commercial product offered on Vodafone’s 3G networks more than 18 months ago. HSDPA-based phones will follow.
Vodafone says it has sold 4.35 million 3G phones and devices. The figure includes around 400,000 3G/GPRS laptop data cards.