Telecom NZ's turn to rev up 3G

After being leapfrogged by Vodafone Group plc's HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) upgrade this winter, Telecom New Zealand Ltd. is hitting back with EV-DO (Evolution Data Only) Revision A.

Starting off in the Auckland central business district, the new 3G (third generation) broadband is theoretically capable of 3.1Mbit/s downloads, and 1.8Mbit/s uploads. The rest of New Zealand will be covered progressively throughout next year, said Gary Rogers, Telecom's manager of mobile data solutions, starting in the city areas.

The service is being launched with a single device, the Sierra Wireless AirCard 595. This PCMCIA Type II device will retail for the same price as the Rev 0 card it replaces, which is NZ$595 (US$410) including sales tax on open term, or bundled with the 12-month or longer contracts.

As for other devices, Telecom hasn't yet a roadmap with specifics in place but said there will be a Vodafone Vodem-like USB device, Express Cards and also laptops with Rev A broadband built in next year.

Computerworld New Zealand was able to test Rev A early, and found that Telecom's stated average performance figures of 800kbit/s downloads, 300kbit/s uploads and 90ms latency were on the conservative side.

At Telecom's Hereford Street offices, the Sierra card hit 2.6Mbit/s downloads and 5-600kbit/s uploads, with latency ranging from 50-70ms. While we're still in the process of doing a full review of the Sierra card, in EV-DO Rev 0 coverage it seems to perform better than the existing device, providing up to 40 percent faster downloads.