Despite HSDPA hype, WiMax competitive, says provider

The introduction of the latest incarnation of 3G technology into Australia is set to put the squeeze on existing wireless broadband providers, but claims of their eventual demise are unfounded says one service provider.

Telstra and Vodafone got the HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) ball rolling this month with the launch of their new wireless broadband offerings.

Telstra's NEXT G network is delivering voice and broadband services to almost the entire nation and claims its customers will receive average speeds of 550Kbps to 1.5Mbps with a peak download speed of 3.6Mbps .

Vodafone, which has presently only HSDPA-enabled metropolitan Sydney and Melbourne, will offer maximum download speeds at 1.8Mbps. Both carriers offer upload speeds of 384Kbps. To access the networks, customers require an HSDPA data card that slots into notebook PCs. Both carriers are retailing these for A$299 (US$228).

Unlike its 3G network which is aimed at enabling access to both consumers in the form of IP TV or music downloads and business via basic Internet connectivity, Vodafone's HSDPA service is largely targeted at mobile workers who require the extra speed and bandwidth.

"With the introduction of 3G we saw a huge change in the mobile working habits of customers," said Vodafone head of business data, Dave McNaughton. "It untethered their laptop and allowed the same business transactions on the road pretty much as easily as in the office on a fixed link."