Vodafone launches HSDPA in Telstra’s shadow

20 Oct 2006

Vodafone Australia today launched commercial HSDPA mobile services in the Sydney and Melbourne metropolitan areas, as well as some airports, but has already had its thunder stolen by rival Telstra. The service is initially only available to users of Vodafone-branded datacards, and currently boasts peak speeds of up to 1.8Mbps/384kbps (down/upload), with W-CDMA/HSDPA PC modems to follow in November and HSDPA-enabled handsets arriving sometime in the first half of 2007. The datacards cost AUD299 (USD222) and Vodafone is offering three W-CDMA/HSDPA packages, ranging from AUD29.95 to AUD99.95 per month for between 100MB and 1GB of inclusive data. Nokia deployed the upgrade.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Vodafone had expected to be the first Australian cellco to launch a commercial HSDPA network, but it was caught off guard by Telstra, which rolled out its own 3.5G upgrade three months ahead of schedule earlier this month. Offered under the banner NEXT G, Telstra’s new network has been rolled out in the 850MHz frequency band to cover over a quarter of Australia’s landmass and more than 98% of the population. It also offers faster speeds than Vodafone, with peak download connections of up to 3.6Mbps, a figure that is expected to rise to 14.4Mbps early next year. Hutchison Telecommunications Australia (HTA) intends to launch commercial HSDPA in 1H 2007, but Optus Mobile, which shares its 3G network with Vodafone, has yet to reveal its plans for the technology.