When it comes to naming all the various flavors of 3G technology, and knowing what they’re all capable of, you really need a pocket guide otherwise you’d go a little nuts. For the sake of shortness, let’s just say that the fastest speeds achievable by 3G today hovers around 42 Mbps. This uses a technology called HSPA+ and many operators are going to opt for that instead of LTE, mainly to save money, but also because HSPA+ supports voice and SMS out of the box while LTE requires additional equipment that hasn’t yet been tested in the field.
With that introduction, let’s get the news out of the way: Portugal and Poland are two additional countries that now have access to the fastest flavor of 3G currently on the market. The first country to get wireless this fast was Australia, with Telstra showing benchmarks scoring above 20 Mbps in the real world using the modem pictured above. Then there was Spain, with Telefónica launching their service in conjunction with the Novatel Wireless Ovation MC545, the world’s smallest dual channel HSPA+ modem.
Portugal is getting their HSPA+ courtesy of Vodafone. Unlimited service at the highest speed tier will cost only 50 EUR per month. You also need to cough up 120 EUR for the Vodafone Connect Pen K4605 that can actually give you those speeds. Poland is getting HSPA+ thanks to Orange, who promises to cover 5 cities (Krakow, Katowice, Wroclaw, Poznan and Szczecin) by the end of this year. Pricing has yet to be determined.
Over on the other side of the pond, America’s two GSM operators have committed to 14.4 Mbps HSPA+ (AT&T), while T-Mobile is currently in the process of rolling out 21 Mbps HSPA+ and will double that at some point in 2011. They’re already saying that their current network delivers 4G speeds, so what are they going to tell customers during the holiday 2011 season?
Confused marketing people? You bet!