Nortel, Qualcomm claim speed record

The companies demonstrate data download speeds of 7.2mbps using the UMTS-HSDPA standard.

Telecommunications equipment maker Nortel Networks and wireless chip manufacturer Qualcomm said Friday that they have set a new download speed record using so-called 3.5G wireless technology.

The companies say they have achieved downloads of 7.2mbps (megabits per second) based on the UMTS-HSDPA (Universal Mobile Telephone System-High Speed Downlink Packet Access) standard. The companies plan to show off the high-speed capability during a demonstration at the CTIA Wireless 2006 trade show in Las Vegas next week.

The companies achieved the ultrafast HSDPA data calls using test terminals based on Qualcomm's Mobile Station Modem, MSM6280 and HSDPA network equipment from Nortel.

HSDPA is a new mobile-telephony protocol that is often called 3.5G or 4G Internet, because it increases the download speeds of regular 3G, or third-generation, networks. The technology is designed to boost network capacity for data transmissions up to four times and enables twice as many wireless users per cell site compared with current UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service) or 3G networks.

The faster download speeds should come as good news to Cingular Wireless, which announced in December that it planned to set up an HSDPA network in 16 markets. The service, called BroadbandConnect, currently provides average speeds between 400kbps (kilobits per second) and 700kbps.

The technology competes with other next-generation cellular technologies, such as EVDO. Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel use EVDO, also known as 1xEV-DO, and also offer wireless broadband service with download speeds between 400kbps and 700kbps.

The Nortel and Qualcomm move improves the performance of HSDPA. That makes the technology competitive with other emerging broadband wireless technologies such as WiMax, which boasts peak data speeds of about 20mbps, with average user data rates between 1mbps and 4mbps.

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