O2 has announced that it's to deliver HSPDA - High Speed Data Packet Access, or 'super 3G' - across its national 3G networks by the third quarter of 2006.
It follows Manx Telecom's (an O2 subsidiary) recent launch of the first super 3G network in Europe on the Isle of Man.
The network features download speeds of 1.4Mbps and is currently only available via PCs equipped with HSPDA cards. O2 hopes that by next autumn downloads will be up to 3.6Mbps, with the ultimate aim of upgrading to 10.2Mbps by 2009.
These speeds compare favourably with T-Mobile's rival HSPDA network which is expected in July next year and will manage download speeds of 1.8Mbps. There are also rival services expected from WiMax, UMTS TDD, Flash-OFDM and MediaFLO.
The only problem is that there are currently no handsets that support HSPDA. The first phones are expected in mid-2006, and will probably be similar in size and weight to current 3G handsets. With any luck, their prices won't be too extortionate and the potential difficulty of battery life will have been sorted.
To give you an idea of pricing, Manx Telecom is charging £40 a month for 100Mb of data on its current service, although it's unclear whether this will be the same in the UK.
Whatever the exact details, it's clear that 2006 will be the year of the next-gen mobile. Check out Stuff's December issue for a look at the exciting new features that could be in your next phone.
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