Hutchison Telecommunications Australia (HTA) has rushed forward its rollout of 3.5G technology and now intends to launch commercial HSDPA services in Sydney and Brisbane by Christmas, according to Australian IT. ‘At this stage the intent is that we’ll probably launch in Brisbane and possibly Sydney,’ HTA’s director of technology Mike Young told the publication. ‘We want to make sure that Sydney is completely covered before we roll out into the market place. We’re not going to rush the launch and accept any holes or pockets.’
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. Whilst Telstra and HTA share a W-CDMA network in the 2100MHz band, HTA does not have access to its partner’s 850MHz infrastructure and must upgrade the 2100MHz facilities if it is to launch HSDPA. Telstra, meanwhile, is preparing to launch its first 3G dual band handsets capable of utilising both the 850MHz and 2100MHz networks. Optus Mobile, which shares its 3G network with Vodafone, has also begun trialling HSDPA in Canberra and Western Sydney, but has yet to reveal plans for a commercial rollout.