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Friday, December 30, 2005

CES 2006: Samsung's Fast-Data-Download Cell Phone

At next week's 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Samsung Electronics plans to demonstrate its first cell phone compatible with a fast data download service that many wireless carriers plan to introduce beginning in 2006.

Vodaphone is developing the cell phone, which is still a prototype and will be compatible with High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), the company said Wednesday. Services can apply HSDPA to third-generation Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) networks to offer significantly faster data downloads. (Go here for an explanation of high-speed wireless networks.)

Vodafone said in September that it planned to begin trials of HSDPA technology in early 2006.

Mega Download Speeds

The Vodaphone service will initially deliver a peak download speed of 1.6 megabits per second, far faster than the maximum of 384 kilobits per second its WCDMA network offers. In time, with future upgrades, the speed will increase to 7 mbps, the carrier said. For users this will translate into a rise in typical data download speed from today's 120 kbps or so to around 425 kbps over HSDPA, according to Vodafone.

The carrier is also considering High Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA), which boosts the upload speed from the cell phone to the network, in 2007 or 2008.

Samsung will demonstrate a working prototype of its cell phone at CES, said company spokesperson Sophia Kim in Seoul.

Cingular Has the Service

Samsung has released few details of the handset as yet, though Kim said the company has completed hardware development and is now working on the phone's software. The phone should be available to Vodafone in the first half of 2006; its availability to users will depend on Vodafone's commercialization plans for HSDPA.

Already one carrier has launched an HSDPA service. Cingular Wireless's Broadband Connect service, which went into service in 52 markets across the United States in December, is based on the technology. Cingular's service provides download speeds of 400 kbps to 700 kbps and is accessible via a laptop modem card for a flat rate of $60 per month.

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