Vodafone 1.8Mbit/s HSDPA in two weeks

Vodafone has announced it will switch on its 1.8Mbit/s High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) wireless broadband service in Sydney and Melbourne metro areas on Friday 20 October.Vodafone is promising speeds of ‘up to’ 1.8Mbit/s on the downstream and 384Kbit/s on the upstream.

The new service will also offer faster startup than existing 3G services Vodafone said.

Vodafone will sell its HSDPA/3G PCMCIA card for laptops for $299 or $0 upfront with a $12.46 monthly repayment over 24 months. Vodafone didn’t announce pricing details about the credit-card-sized USB modem it had shown APC previously but said it would be available in November.

Phones that support HSDPA will be available in the first half of next year though it’s unlikely that Bluetooth will be the best way to connect an HSDPA phone to a laptop given its limited real-world throughput.

Vodafone said the inbuilt 3G capability on Lenovo ThinkPad R60 T60 X60 and Z61 notebooks already supports HSDPA providing connectivity without data cards.

Vodafone will offer three data plans which will not be contracted and therefore can be changed from month to month without penalty: 100MB for $29.95 300MB for $49.95 and 1GB for $99.95 with excess usage charged at 30c per MB.

Vodafone said it would release further details of its HSDPA network footprints in Sydney and Melbourne at launch and would announce roll-out plans for other Australian cities during 2007.
Optus which shares its 3G network with Vodafone had no announcement to make about HSDPA. However the timing of Vodafone’s announcement came just days before Telstra is to give a major media briefing on the launch of its “NextG” HSDPA 3G network. Telstra will conduct the full day of media and investor briefings tomorrow.