KPN Mobile, the Netherlands’ leading wireless operator, has announced it will begin upgrading its 3G network with high speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) technology next year. HSDPA offers theoretical peak data rates of up to 14Mbps and allows users to download packet-data, while making a voice call simultaneously. KPN also revealed that it is currently testing mobile TV applications, with a tentative view to rolling out services in the first quarter of 2006.
KPN shares the Dutch mobile market with four other network operators – Vodafone, Telfort Mobiel (formerly O2), Orange and T-Mobile – plus two recently established MVNOs, Tele2 Mobiel and Scarlet Telecom. All five main operators hold 3G licences, having received their 15-year concessions in July 2000. KPN began offering its 3G services in July 2004, initially only to business users, with coverage of 30% of the population at launch. Consumer services were rolled out three months later, by which time the cellco claimed coverage of 50% of the Netherlands’ ‘main cities’; by the end of 2004 the operator had 1,023 UMTS sites in operation, covering 80 cities and 40% of the population.