Quite a number of 3G UMTS networks have been upgraded over the past year to HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) which boosts data transmission rates from about 384 kbit/s to over 1 MBit/s in a first step. The second step of HSDPA, with data rates of over 3 MBit/s, has also gone life in some of networks already. So far, there were only PC data cards which were HSDPA capable. But now it looks like the first HSDPA handsets are close to market readiness.
In Europe and Asia, the Nokia N95 for example will surely take full advantage of HSDPA with it’s built in multimedia and Internet applications. For the US, where different frequencies are used, it looks like Samsung will take the lead with a new HSDPA smartphone called "Blackjack" which will be available from Cingular. The video below from Mobilytsite compares download speeds of HSDPA (Cingular), EVDO (Sprint) and EDGE (Cingular).
As you can see in the video, the download speed is faster than what I can get over my 1 MBit/s ADSL line at home. Amazing! The other plus of the device is the built in EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) support so the smartphone is also usable in areas with no 3.5G coverage without being crippled by low GPRS speeds. With these and other phones surely in the pipeline of Samsung and other companies, it looks like we could soon see some real traffic in the UMTS networks in the US which so far have not been used much due to a lack of market adapted handsets. Great! Now let’s work on dual frequency UMTS handsets for international roaming!