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Vodafone NZ to launch HSDPA on 12 September

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Sep-2006 11:32

By now most of you should know that Vodafone New Zealand will soon be releasing an update to its 3G network (based on WCDMA technologies) to a next level of performance.

The new service, dubbed by Vodafone "3G Broadband" is based on HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Access), an evolution of its current network.

I got word from Vodafone New Zealand that 3G Broadband will be launched 12 September. Same information came from Juha's blog.

I actually have just received an e-mail invitation to join Vodafone New Zealand GM, Russell Stanners, and the Vodafone team on some drinks to celebrate the "go live" of this new network.

"Go live" is just a way to say it. The HSDPA service is actually already available in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch (the last city where a trial with about 100 users was run).

But just living on an area with 3G coverage is not enough to use this service. It is limited to certain centres only (I can't even access HSDPA here in Johnsonville yet, although the 3G service in general works fine).

But if you are the lucky owner of a HSDPA-enabled device, start using it. I just borrowed a Sierra Wireless AirCard 850 PC Card (max 1.8Mbps) from a friend to use on my Tablet PC for a few days so I will have a better idea before the event happens (no, Vodafone New Zealand have not sent any card or devices to bloggers or media yet).


The information we have is that this new cellular data network will initially allow 1.8Mbps maximum download speeds (I'd expect more like 700Kbps though), with a soon to be released update to 3.6Mbps link. There are some comments coming out of Vodafone New Zealand about a future update that will bring the network to 7.2Mbps speeds. How fast it will go under load is something we still have no idea, but soon we'll learn. For comparison sake, check Telecom New Zealand's CDMA EV-DO future.

Also, you will need new devices. Your current GPRS or 3G VMC (Vodafone Mobile Connect card) will not work with this network. I am told that a USB modem (launched in the UK as Vodafone Mobile Connect USB Modem) will be available here. The cool stuff is that drivers and software are pre-installed in its flash memory, so you can just plug and use it, with no need to handle CDs to install software.

Also coming (but no date set yet) is the Vodafone-branded Palm 750v, a Windows Mobile handheld, and the i-mate JASJAM, both compatible with the new HSDPA network. And a couple of Samsung mobile phones, including one with a cool 3.2 megapixel digital camera.

So, let's see how this works out, come 12 September.

UPDATE: It looks like there's HSDPA coverage here in Johnsonville. Check my first speed test results on Vodafone NZ HSDPA.








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Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

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