New Mobile Phones Deliver Faster HSDPA Downloads

South Korea's three big cell phone makers are speeding the path to higher-speed data downloads over wireless networks.

Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and Pantech have all unveiled this month their first phones that are compatible with 7.2Mbps variants of high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) networks. HSDPA is a packet data transmission technology used on wideband code division multiple access (WCDMA) networks.

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First-generation HSDPA networks supported speeds of up to 1.8Mbps. This was doubled in second-generation systems, and now third-generation (3G) are rated as high as 7.2Mbps. The speed is a theoretical maximum download speed and users are unlikely to hit that in real-world usage, but nevertheless they will see a relative jump in download speed from generation to generation.

The phones are appearing as Korea's carriers begin switching on the latest upgrades and increasing transmission speed. The same thing is happening elsewhere in the world.

In Asia, Singapore's StarHub switched on a 7.2Mbps HSDPA network on Aug. 4, and the Netvigator Everywhere service from Hong Kong's PCCW that was launched this week also uses such a network. Networks in various European countries are also offering the faster downloads.

The three South Korean handsets share more than high-speed downloading: All are slider-type phones and have 2-megapixel cameras. The LG-SH150 and Pantech IM-U210 will cost about 500,000 won (US$531), and the Samsung SCH-W300 will cost about 600,000 won.

With the upgrades to 7.2Mbps, the HSDPA technology isn't done yet. Future upgrades are envisaged to boost speeds to 14.4Mbps, and work is continuing on a new generation that will push speeds even higher. There's also a companion technology called high-speed uplink packet access (HSUPA) that can boost upload speeds from phones to the network. These networks generally offer about 2Mbps at present.

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